Dear Annie: Every day, I see kids in the front passenger seat with their feet on the dashboard.
This is incredibly dangerous. In a low-impact crash that does not signal air bag deployment, this body position has moved the seat belt, assuming it’s being used, off the waist and onto the abdomen, and near the throat. Worse, though, is the knees are in completely the wrong orientation to flex and move with the force of the crash.
Air bags deploy beginning with moderate crashes, defined as hitting a parked car at about 20 mph. In other words, almost every crash deploys the air bags. An air bag deploying directly under the feet can lead to devastating, life-altering injuries to the feet, ankles, knees, hip and tendons.
An air bag system must detect a crash of enough force and then fully deploy the air bags in less than 80 milliseconds, which is less than one-tenth of one second. The fundamental point is for the head and torso to contact a fully deployed air bag (now an air pillow). Contact with the surface of an air bag that is still expanding at great speed results in facial injuries, as well as possible upper torso injuries.
In fact, on impact, the air bag is already deflating. This is why air bags are in no way an excuse to not wear seat belts, which slow your body’s forward motion until the air bag is fully inflated. – Concerned Driver
Dear Concerned Driver: Not only is putting your feet on the dashboard incredibly dangerous, as your letter points out, it’s also unattractive and bad manners. It is on the same level of rudeness with putting your feet on the table. Yuck.
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