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The Dangers of Riding With Your Feet on the Dash

It can be tempting to kick your feet up on the dash when you’ve been sitting in the passenger seat for hours. It’s a familiar position for those looking to stretch their legs and get more comfortable.

However, while riding in this position may be more comfortable, it can be incredibly dangerous. 

Today, we’re looking at how dangerous it can be. You’ll also see why you should think twice the next time you consider it. 

Keep Your Feet on the Floor

The safest position for riding in a vehicle is always to keep your feet on the floor. If you have any doubts, this crash test video helps provide insight into what happens in an accident when you have your feet up on the dash. Our knees and legs ache just watching it! You can easily see why you may want to reconsider. Keep your feet on the floor.

Why Riding With Your Feet on the Dash Is Dangerous

There are a handful of reasons you should sacrifice a bit of comfort while riding shotgun. Let’s look at what could happen and how you can increase your safety while on the road. 

Woman's bare feet on dashboard.
Sitting with your feet on the dash can be dangerous if you’re in an accident.

Airbags Deploy Incredibly Fast

It’s hard to imagine how insanely fast airbags deploy. Cars Direct found that airbags deploy in 55 milliseconds and can hit you at over 100 mph. That’s comparable to the amount of time it takes for you to blink your eyes or sneeze.

In the blink of an eye, you could have tremendous force from the airbag pushing your feet and legs upwards. This could send them through a broken windshield or into the sharp metal of the vehicle’s frame.

Seatbelts Are Meant to Be Worn One Way

The design of seatbelts allows them to do their job without causing harm when the passenger sits in a normal position. Your position while sitting with your feet on the dash could cause the seatbelt to constrict or harm organs and even sever limbs.

Lee Alderson of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation states that airbags “are designed for the driver and passengers sitting upright, with their backs and feet in the proper place, and the seatbelt positioned low on the waist and across the shoulder.” This allows them to do their job and reduces the potential of harm to the passenger.

Pro Tip: Before you kick off your shoes to drive, find out Is Driving Barefoot Illegal?

Your Reaction Time Isn’t That Great

The average person isn’t likely to react in time if an accident occurs. This is especially true if you’re taking a quick nap during the drive. You’re kidding yourself if you think you’ll have time to get your feet down in time. You have to also keep in mind that you may not see the accident happen if another vehicle rear-ends you.

Woman in socks with feet on the dashboard.
If your airbags deploy while your feet are on the dash, disaster can occur!

Your Car Can Roll Over

An estimated 250,000 vehicles are in roll-over accidents each year. If your vehicle rolls over while your feet are on the dash, there’s a great chance you’ll fly around inside or even out of the vehicle.

Sitting in the correct position allows airbags and seatbelts to do their job. This is especially in a roll-over accident where there’s a higher risk of getting thrown entirely or partially from the vehicle. The risk of a fatality in an accident drastically increases when a vehicle rolls over. So, you want you and your passengers to be sitting in a position that optimizes their safety.

You Can Become Permanently Disabled

The risk of injury with their feet on the dash drastically increases. You are more likely to suffer an injury, but the severity of the injury also increases. If you’re not convinced to keep your feet down, these x-ray photos may just do the trick.

There have been passengers who have become permanently disabled due to having their feet on the dash. Audra Tatum is one of those passengers who had her feet on the dash and was involved in a minor accident in 2015. As a result of the accident, she now has multiple screws in her ankles, hips, and knees and can’t stand for more than four hours a day. 

Pro Tip: Stay safe while road tripping by driving on The Best Day of the Week for RV Travel.

Person with feet on dashboard.
Sit straight with your feet on the floor while driving.

Has Anyone Died From Riding With Their Feet Up?

We couldn’t find any specific incidents where the cause of death was explicitly due to riding with feet up on the dash. However, it’s relatively easy to find a long list of passengers seriously injured.

One passenger had her forehead completely smashed by her knees, which required a 10.5-hour surgery and the removal of her forehead for more than two years. Not being in the appropriate position could allow the passenger to slip out of a seatbelt and get completely or partially ejected from a vehicle, especially if the vehicle is rolling. Ejection from a vehicle drastically increases the chances of a fatality.

Sit Up Straight and Keep Your Feet Down

We hope you can see the importance of keeping your feet on the floor. It may be tempting to put your feet up to get more comfortable or stretch, but it’s not worth it. You never know when an accident might occur, and you don’t want to be in a dangerous position should one happen. If you need to pull over and stretch your legs, do it. Don’t allow yourself or your passengers to be in a dangerous position.

Do you ride with your feet up on the dashboard on long travel days? Tell us in the comments!

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