Nothing says summer quite like a long road trip…the windows down, music blaring, Red Vines in one hand, the other dangling out the window. And your legs? Well, those lucky enough to be riding shotgun probably have them propped up on the dash, of course!
Uh, better rethink that last part. While it may seem comfortable to rest your feet up on the dashboard, it can actually be a dangerous position should your car be involved in an accident.
In 2015, Audra Tatum casually had a foot up on her husband’s dashboard when another driver T-boned their car at an intersection. The airbags deployed, rapidly forcing Tatum’s foot straight into her face. She broke her nose and shattered her femur in four places, as well as her shoulder and arm.
“Basically my whole right side was broken,” she told KTVQ.
While she did eventually recover, Tatum has four metal screws and a rod in her leg. She also had to quit her job with Emergency Medical Services, as she could no longer perform her duties.
“I can’t do my career as an EMS. I can’t lift patients anymore,” she told CBSNews in 2017. “I can’t stand more than 4 hours at a time. Once I’m at that 4-hour mark I’m in tears.”
Tatum says her own husband had warned her about the danger of riding with her feet up on the dashboard, but she always brushed him off.
“All my life I had my legs crossed and my foot on the dash,” she explained. “My husband always told me, ‘You’re going to get in a wreck someday, and you’re going to break your legs.'”
Her response to him: “I’ll put my foot down in time.
Had Tatum not had her foot on the dash, doctors told her she would have walked away from the accident unscathed.
Instead, she has spent the last two years dealing with excruciating pain, not to mention attending physical therapy, learning to walk again and having to pay large hospital bills.
“I keep telling everybody, you don’t want this life,” she explains of sharing her story. “You don’t want the pain and agony every day.”
Sadly, Tatum is not the first person who has suffered a bad injury as a result of riding with her feet on the dash. In 2010, 22-year-old Bethany Benson had her feet up on the dashboard when her boyfriend struck a tractor-trailer that stopped suddenly on the highway. She cracked her left eye socket and cheekbone. But, worst of all, the impact of her feet against her face caused her brain to bleed. Although she thankfully survived the crash, the brain-bleed has left with her lifelong memory and hearing issues.
Wow. Suddenly the dashboard doesn’t sound like such a cozy place to rest your legs. In the event of an accident, your airbags are going to deploy with such speed and velocity that you could suffer severe damage, or even death, if your feet are propped up on the dashboard.
Here’s another recent warning posted on Facebook from the Chattanooga Fire Department:
Tatum is using her accident to help spread awareness about the major risks associated with this seemingly “harmless” habit.
“It could have done so much more damage. It did make it break my nose, but I could’ve hit the dash a whole lot harder without that airbag,” she told KTVQ. “If I can save one person from doing this and they’re not going through it, that would be wonderful.”
Still need more convincing? Check out this PSA from the Provo Police Department posted on YouTube just last summer.
In the PSA, the police officer stresses the serious injuries that can be caused to a passenger’s body while seated with their feet up during an accident. As the clip points out, ignoring warnings and riding like that can cause catastophic damage if an unforeeen incident occurs.
Now it’s time to spread the word, and go make sure you remind your friends and family to keep their feet where they belong — on the floor!
Do these stories make you rethink putting your feet on the dashboard?