Why You Should Never Put Your Feet on the Dashboard

One of the fastest slapshots in hockey was clocked at 175 km/h, at the 2020 AHL All-Star Weekend. Good thing then, that hockey players wear pads and helmets to protect themselves from such projectiles. Now, can you imagine getting hit by something clocking in at nearly twice that speed? Believe it or not, most airbags explode – or “deploy”, if you prefer – at a velocity of up to 322 km/h.

Airbags are standard safety equipment in modern vehicles. They deploy in a split second to cushion your head and body in case of a collision. And they work as intended – provided you’re seated correctly. Putting your feet on the dashboard may be comfortable, but that won’t help an airbag protect your life – it may even endanger it.

Safety equipment can’t be dangerous, can it?
“Although airbags are part of the vehicle’s overall safety system, they deploy with significant force, and may be triggered even in a minor collision,” said Lee Alderson, Senior Issues Advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

“Drivers and passengers who put their feet on the dashboard while the vehicle is in operation expose themselves to potentially very serious injuries, especially if the airbags should deploy,” said Alderson.

Woman Left Without A Forehead After Feet On Dashboard Car Crash

A woman is speaking out to warn others about the dangers of putting your feet up on the dashboard after she was left without a forehead for two years.

Gráinne Kealy was just 22 when a car she was in skidded on some black ice and hit a wall; her feet were propped up on the dashboard, over the airbag, and were forced back into her face – breaking almost every bone in her face.

Speaking about the crash, which took place on 16 December 2006, Gráinne said: “My boyfriend at the time was driving us through Borris-in-Ossory in County Laois to do a bit of Christmas shopping and I had my feet on the dashboard. It wasn’t something I normally did, but I had new shoes on so I knew I wouldn’t leave dirty marks on the dashboard.

“My feet were on top of the airbag and, I know now, they inflate at 200mph. The force of that meant my knees were sent back into my face really powerfully. I broke nearly every bone in my face. I had a brain leak [called a CSF (Cerebrospinal Fluid)] and I lost two teeth.”

Gráinne and her boyfriend were rushed to hospital where she underwent surgery to fix the leak on her brain and the fractures to her face.

However, just a few months later it was found that Gráinne had an infection in the bone in her forehead, so medics were forced to remove it in 2007. Gráinne then lived without a forehead for two years.

“It took a while to slowly go down,” she explained. “It wasn’t like I suddenly woke up and it was sunken in. It took a while, which probably helped me get used to it.

“For a long time, I was afraid to leave the house. I became a bit of a hermit. I didn’t want to go out and then when I did go out, I would get looks. I bought hats to cover it. I was also worried about banging my head.”

But, in June 2009 surgeons at Beaumont Hospital managed to reconstruct Gráinne’s face by fitting a ceramic forehead.

She said: “It was strange. I’m aware of it, but I can’t really remember what it was like before I had it. Since it was first fitted, I’ve had fat taken from my stomach and injected either side of it to plump it out because you could see the edges.”

This is why you NEVER put your feet on the dashboard

As soon as Audra Tatum would hop into the passenger seat of a car, the mother of three from Walker County, Georgia, would lean back and relax with her feet up on the dashboard.

Her husband warned her about the dangerous habit, but Tatum didn’t care — it was comfortable.

“All my life I had my legs crossed and my foot on the dash,” Tatum told CBS News. “My husband always told me, ‘You’re going to get in a wreck someday, and you’re going to break your legs.'”

Tatum assured him he was wrong.

“I’ll put my foot down in time,” she would always reply.

But two years ago, on August 2, 2015, Tatum’s perspective changed completely.

The couple was heading to her parents’ house about 4 miles away to pick up her two sons when a car pulled in front of her husband and they T-boned him. Everyone was able to walk away from the scene with scrapes and bruises, except for Tatum.

“The airbag went off, throwing my foot up and breaking my nose,” Tatum explained. “I was looking at the bottom of my foot facing up at me.”Tatum’s ankle, femur and arm were all broken by the impact.

“Basically my whole right side was broken, and it’s simply because of my ignorance,” Tatum said. “I’m not Superman. I couldn’t put my foot down in time.”

A Day in the Life of a Trauma Surgeon: Get Your Foot Off of My Dash

We have all seen it before. You are cruising right down the road, and it immediately catches your attention. There is a female passenger in another vehicle with her feet up on the dash.  Imagine the horror if someone did this to your brand new vehicle!

The nightmare came true for both Bob and Carol. They were running errands around town and Carol put her foot up on the glistening dash of Bob’s new SUV. Holding back his true thoughts, Bob politely says, “Honey, please get your foot off of my new dash.” Carol replies, “I am just admiring my new pedicure like you’ve been admiring your new SUV.” As the conversation heats up, Bob becomes distracted while making a left hand turn at a four-way intersection and fails to yield to an oncoming vehicle. Distracted as well, Carol still has her foot on the dash at the time of impact.

Brake pedals are slammed to the floor and evasive maneuvers fail. Bob’s brand new SUV is struck in the right front corner sending it into a spin, before it rolls over onto its roof and slides to a stop. Fortunately, all the occupants of both vehicles were seat belted and most were able to walk away from the crash. Carol was not so lucky. As the passenger frontal bag deployed, it pushed Carol’s foot through the windshield and her toes were amputated as the vehicle slid on its roof, dragging her foot across the hot summer asphalt.

One can only imagine the pain and fear when Carol looked down and saw that her toes were gone. After stabilizing Carol for transport to the hospital, the good-intentioned paramedic recovered her missing toes. After transferring Carol’s care to me, he said, “here are her toes for you to put back on.” I smiled and thanked him, knowing well that was not going to happen. Not only were two toes completely missing but the three amputated toes along with her foot were too badly damaged to perform a reimplantation.

Carol received a complete trauma evaluation, and fortunately the only injury was to her foot. We took her to the operating room and cleaned things up, leaving Carol a functional forefoot amputation. After a couple of days of physical therapy she was back on her feet.

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