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 neil.dickenson@state.mn.us.