Riding in vehicles can get uncomfortable, especially on long road trips, but failing to sit properly (such as putting your feet up on the dash) can result in grave consequences in the event of a crash.
Airbags are designed to protect the chest and upper body from impact at the time of a crash. They use a small explosive charge to detonate and release gas to fill the airbag. Due to their power, it is recommended that passengers keep a 10-inch distance between themselves and an airbag. When passengers ignore this warning and do something like put their feet up on the dash, complications can arise.
One Georiga woman can attest to the terrible consequences suffered from this dangerous behavior. Audra Tatum, a mother of three from Walker County, broke her ankle, femur, arm and nose when the airbag sent her leg and foot flying backwards as she sat in the passenger seat. The rest of her family only endured scrapes and bruises. She now spends her time educating others on the importance of sitting properly in their seat and keeping the suggested distance from airbags.
Many passengers believe they will have time to move their feet off the dash before impact, but crashes often happen out of nowhere and airbags inflate in less than 1/20th of a second – or 100 to 220 mph.
MythBusters, a science TV show that aims to prove or debunk myths, conducted an experiment using a synthetic cadaver as a passenger with its legs propped on the dashboard. The results on the video when the airbag deployed were shocking to watch.
In addition to keeping your feet off the dash, it is crucial that all passengers are properly restrained before the vehicle hits the road. When safety belts are worn, chances of fatal injury are reduced by 45 percent. Remember:
- Sit up straight with your back firmly against the back of the seat.
- The lap belt should fit snugly across your hips and not be allowed to ride up onto your abdomen.
- After fastening the lap belt, be sure to take up any slack.
- NEVER place the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.
- On many vehicles, there is a mechanism to adjust the shoulder height of the safety belt – take advantage of this to position the belt for optimum comfort.