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Keep your feet off the dash, officials warn, or risk ‘knees through your eye sockets’

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Riding shotgun with the windows down and your feet on the dash sounds like a romantic concept. But first responders are sharing several graphic stories to illustrate its dangers.

It started with the Chattanooga Fire Department, which shared a picture and post to Facebook about why it’s so dangerous.

“While traveling this weekend, I noticed many passengers had their feet on the dashboard of their car. Airbags deploy between 100 & 220 MPH,” the post read. “If you ride with your feet on the dash and you’re involved in an accident, the airbag may send your knees through your eye sockets.”

It was similar to a post the same fire department had made last year, which was partially prompted by the story of Audra Tatum, a mother of three who loved riding with her feet on the dash until Aug. 2, 2015.

She was riding with her husband in Georgia, when a car pulled in front of them and their car T-boned the other, according to CBS News. Everyone else only had minor injuries, except for Tatum.

“The airbag went off, throwing my foot up and breaking my nose. I was looking at the bottom of my foot facing up at me,” Tatum said. “Basically my whole right side was broken, and it’s simply because of my ignorance. I’m not Superman. I couldn’t put my foot down in time.”

It’s a warning first responders have repeated for years, but people continue to lift those feet on the dash.

Bethany Benson, who was 22 at the time, is another example, exactly five years before Tatum. On Aug. 2, 2010, Benson was riding back from her aunt’s house in Michigan with her seat slightly reclined and her feet up. She went to sleep, but found out from accounts later that a chain-reaction crash occurred, with her boyfriend’s 2002 Sunfire crashing into the back of a transport truck, according to Driving Safety & Maintenance.

Her boyfriend required 100 stitches. Benson’s left eye socket, cheekbone, nose and feet were broken; her jaw was dislocated; a tooth cut through her lower lip; she lost her spleen; her left pupil became permanently dilated, which affected her vision; her hearing was permanently altered; she lost some of her memory; and a brain bleed caused her to lose years of education she had worked for, such as her fluency in French.

Comments from Facebook users on the Chattanooga Fire Department post relayed their own experiences.

“At 19 I went in a trip to visit my now husband... I had my right foot on the dashboard... it was a beautiful day... windows down, radio up... cruising with my friend in her new mustang... she hit a stopped car doing 65 mph... no one in the car was injured except for me... the airbag crushed my ankle, damaged my knee, broke my femur in 2 places and I had multiple face lacerations (from the airbag and my leg hitting me in the face)... this is very real... I’ve had multiple surgeries... I have 3 huge scars on my leg, knee and ankle...I walk with a limp sometimes,” one user wrote.

“Two years ago yesterday a man in a stolen car pulled out in front of us. I was a passenger. We T-boned him at 45 mph. My foot was on the dash. The air bag went off... my foot broke my nose. Nose broke ankle. Femur broke into 4 pieces. And arm broke trying to stop impact. I have so many screws and Rods and I am miserable to this day!!!” another wrote, adding that now she is disabled at 31 years old.

There are several others on the page, all with similar themes.

If those stories aren’t enough to convince you, Reddit also has a thread on the subject from 2015 with more horrific stories.

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