Skip to main content

When driving or riding in a car, there are a few safety rules that the driver and passenger should adhere to. Rules like wearing a seatbelt, driving at or below the speed limit, and not driving while intoxicated comes to mind. However, never putting your feet on the dashboard should be one as well. Here is why.

Why should you never put your feet on the dashboard?

A passenger has their feet up on the car dashboard.
A passenger has their feet up on the car dashboard. | Unsplash

Putting your feet up on the dashboard can lead to severe injuries in the event of an accident. And while any brave front-seat passenger may think that they can simply remove their feet before the airbag deploys, they can’t. An airbag can deploy at a rate of 100 to 220 miles per hour. This means that unless the passenger can move at superhuman speed, they can expect to become a human pretzel at any moment.

Here are a few reasons why it’s a bad idea for a passenger (or driver) to put their feet on the dashboard, according to The News Wheel:

  • Airbag deployment pressure: An airbag not only deploys at a high rate of speed, but it also deploys with an immense amount of pressure. That pressure can push a passenger’s feet toward the windshield, roof, or even backward, which can lead to a broken nose or pelvis.
  • Less protection in a rollover accident: In the event of a rollover accident, the chest and knee airbags won’t be able to protect the passenger if their feet are resting on the dash. This can result in more injuries.
  • Seatbelt placement: The three-point seatbelt is made to cover specific points on your body for optimal protection. If your feet are up on the dashboard, then the seatbelt won’t be able to do its job properly.

Learn from a real-life example

In case you need more proof as to why you should never rest your feet on the dashboard, you can learn from Audra Tatum’s mistake. According to Family Handyman, “Tatum and her husband would frequently ferry their three kids to various activities.” Whenever she would sit in the front seat, Tatum would have the bad habit of putting her feet up on the dashboard.

“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.’” 

Like many other passengers, Tatum thought that she would be able to put her legs down before the airbag would deploy. But that was not the case. One day, their car collided with another one that pulled out in front of them. As a result, Audra Tatum’s femur, ankle, arm, and nose were broken on impact. She couldn’t walk for a month and is still recovering from her injuries. The other passengers in the car walked away with scrapes and bruises.

“I keep telling everybody, you don’t want this life,” she said. “You don’t want the pain and agony every day.”

Here’s what you can do instead of putting your feet up on the car’s dashboard

Lola Gehl of Newport Beach props her feet up on the dashboard.
Lola Gehl of Newport Beach props her feet up on the dashboard. | Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

If you have a bad habit of putting your feet up on the dashboard during long trips, then you may want to take occasional breaks to stretch your legs. Also, when you get back in the car, have the driver remind you to keep your feet on the floor. While that recumbent position may be comfortable and tempting whenever you sit in the passenger seat, just remember that it’s not worth the potential injuries.


Is Honking Your Car Horn a First Amendment Right?