Question: I often see front seat passengers in vehicles with their feet on the dash. Is there a law that prohibits this? I can’t help wondering what would happen in the event that the airbags deploy.
Answer: There is no law that prohibits a passenger from placing their feet on the dashboard while the vehicle is in motion.
Passengers who put their feet up in a moving vehicle could be putting themselves at even greater risk of injury in the event of a crash. It comes down to using good judgement.
Airbags are designed to cushion the head and chest of an adult passenger sitting in an upright position when wearing a correctly fitted seat belt. If the passenger is sitting incorrectly, there is a greater risk of injury in a crash. This could result in their knees being forced into their chest or face that could cause a serious injury or death. There is also a risk of leg fractures or spinal injuries.
Below are some recommendations and information on airbag safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
When there is a moderate to severe crash, a signal is sent from the air bag system's electronic control unit to the inflator within the air bag module. An igniter in the inflator starts a chemical reaction that produces a harmless gas, which inflates the airbag in the blink of an eye – less than 1/20 of a second.
Side-impact airbags inflate even more quickly, since there is less space between the occupant and the striking object, such as the interior of the vehicle, another vehicle, a tree, or a pole.
Because airbags deploy very rapidly, serious or sometimes fatal injuries can occur if the occupant is too close to – or is in direct contact with – the airbag when it first begins to deploy.
Sitting as far back from the steering wheel or dashboard as possible and using seat belts help prevent occupants from being too close to a deploying frontal air bag.
I highly recommend that you never place your feet on the dashboard while the vehicle is in motion.
If you have any questions about traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave, Duluth, MN 55811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.