As a Houston podiatrist, I'm usually all about doing things that make your feet feel better. But there is one comfort move I can't condone: riding in the front passenger seat and putting your feet up on the dashboard. Let's explore why this admittedly comfortable habit is a very bad idea. 

Airbag Danger You may find this pose relaxing, but putting your feet on the dash is extremely dangerous.

When you get in an accident, both driver and passenger side airbags may deploy. If they do, this will happen quickly and without much warning. As you may already know, life-saving airbags can be dangerous. That's why we now discourage (and, in many states, completely ban) kids from riding in the front seat. So, if we know that airbag injuries are a reality, what could happen when your feet are directly in the line of the airbag's deployment?

I just came across an article in which a woman was interviewed after a car accident. Right before impact, she'd had her feet up on the dashboard. When the car she was in slammed into another vehicle, the airbag deployed. The passenger, 22-year-old Bethany Benson, sustained serious injury. Doctors believe she was hurt so badly because of the position of her feet. 

You seem when the airbag deployed, it struck her hamstring at full force (which can be up to 200 miles per hour.) That impact forced her feet up and through the windshield. It also pushed her knees into her eyes. Benson suffered a brain injury. She shattered her eye socket and fractured her cheekbone. She also broke 11 bones in her feet!  

In the wake of her accident, Benson has made it her mission to protect others from making her same mistake. She told the Toronto Star, "Now I see people doing it all the time and it just bothers me because they don’t know how dangerous it is. I just want to scream at them, to tell them not to do it, because they might end up like me.”

Protecting Your Feet at All Times

We all know (or I hope we do) that it's important to protect your feet as you walk down the street, or even in your house. I always encourage you to wear closed-toed, supportive shoes that keep your feet from getting scratched, cut or worn out. Well, now I'm encouraging you to think about your feet, even when you aren't walking. So please, if you're starting to plan a holiday-weekend roadtrip, or even if you're just hopping in the car for a quick drive with a friend, keep those feet on the floor. It could mean the difference between comfortably walking away from an accident or being driven off in an ambulance, unable to use your feet. 


Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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