By on August 18, 2015

cuz

Do not click the link in the next paragraph if you are at work.

It’s one of the most popular posts in TTAC history, and it’s absolutely emblematic of the Bertel Era here at this site. It’s completely not safe for work and before you click it, I want you to think about whether you are at work, and if you are at work, do not click this link with horrifying non-work-safe pictures that you should not view at work.

The link above? Don’t view it at work. It’s disgusting.

The article is called A Day in the Life of a Trauma Surgeon: Get Your Foot Off of My Dash and it contains graphic photographs of what can happen to your feet if they are on a car dashboard when the airbags go off. At the time, I considered the article, and the included photographs, to represent the absolute nadir of this website’s management and content selection.

But there is at least one person out there who probably wishes she’d been forced to read it, graphic images and all. Unfortunately for her, it was published three years too late.


Back in 2010, Bethany Benson, a young woman in her early twenties, was road-tripping with her boyfriend and she had her feet up on the dashboard. A chain-reaction accident ahead of her led to a stopped tractor-trailer dead ahead. When her boyfriend failed to stop in time…

…okay, hold on a moment.

A loaded tractor-trailer requires over five hundred feet to come to a halt from 65 mph. A Pontiac Sunfire like the one driven by Benson’s boyfriend can do it in about 170 feet. Given the photographs of the Sunfire, it was probably doing 30 mph or more when it struck the stopped trailer. So there’s perhaps four hundred feet of inattention involved here. At sixty-five miles per hour, that’s four complete and total seconds of not paying attention to the road ahead of you.

Now it’s possible that the tractor-trailer was still moving at the time, which means that Benson’s boyfriend wasn’t asleep at the wheel. He simply allowed himself to be out braked by an 80,000-pound truck with what was probably first-generation ABS and retread tires. I don’t know what to say at that point. If you get out braked by a truck, tear up your license and go home, because you have no business driving on a freeway. I understand that following the one-car-length-per-ten-miles-per-hour rule in modern traffic conditions will result in cars swerving around you and filling the space. So when something happens like an Audi S8 out braking the Land Cruiser behind it, you have to chalk it up to the way things are. But getting out braked by a tractor-trailer?

What happened next was traumatic for Ms. Benson, of course.

Because of the proximity of her legs to the airbag, it forcefully hit her hamstring, causing her feet to push up and through the windshield.

As a result, her knees slammed into her eyes, causing her left eye socket and cheekbone to crack. In addition, she broke her nose, eight bones in her left foot, and three bones in her right foot.

Many of her external injuries have healed, but she still lives in constant pain. She takes a pharmacy worth of pills every days, she is required to wear expensive orthopedic shoes, and the bleeding in her brain resulted in irreversible effects.

The article goes on to suggest that Ms. Benson has regressed to the level of a thirteen-year-old, at least in the expressed opinion of her mother, who also made sure to inform reporters that she would no longer be able to retire because she’d be taking care of her daughter. Part of me wants to open a Bible to Matthew 6:5 and hit that person over the head with it so she gets the message; another part of me just hopes that Ms. Benson isn’t consigned to a community-theater production of “Misery” in the form of this self-pitying woman looking after her for the rest of her life.

This story has spread through the Internet like the proverbial wildfire in the past few days. But if you know anybody who continues to put her — and let’s face it, it’s always her — feet on the dashboard, you might want to talk to her about it. And while severed toes and the like make for a wonderfully shocking story, the real tragedy is in what happens in the long years after you leave the trauma surgeon’s office.

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63 Comments on “Get Your Feet Off My Dash! The Prequel...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    I remember reading this story on TTAC when it was first posted, I wish the surgeon that posted that still did articles on here.
    I’ve never found how one can comfortably put their legs that high, it must be dependent on the car, I prefer being in a Suburban or Challenger where there’s room to stretch as far as one can reach, only safely.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Back in the mid 1970’s I had a girlfriend who was quite tiny and used to love to put her feet up on the passenger side dash of my Ford Pinto. At first, I didn’t mind – she was cute in that position. But after a few weeks – and this was well before airbags – it occured to me that she might suffer extensive injuries if we had an accident, even though we were both wearing seatbelts. I asked her to drop the practice and she agreed without argument.

      • 0 avatar

        I figured that one out, too, long ago.

        Caution genes run in my family. My parents had seat belts installed in the ’57 Chevy in ’60 or ’61. The 1965 Peugeot 404 was probably the first Peugeot wagon to have rear shoulder belts. My father, an academic economist, solved the topological problem of how to install them for the guys at the factory. And I had Bell bicycle helmet serial #7022 in the days when you had to mail order them from the factory.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        Back in my college days I had a old Dodge Ramcharger with a full removeable roof. I had a good buddy who used to love riding shotgun with his feet on the dash, or crossed and sticking out the window. I think it was around the time when that movie “The Doors” came out and he was in a pseudo Jim Morrison rebel stage. It didn’t really bother me much then, but I do remember one time while bombing around I had to jam on the brakes in a panic stop and his heel slammed into the A pillar….hard. That A pillar was not padded or even clad with plastic….bare steel. He walked funny for a couple of weeks after that…never did put his feet up again though.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    @Hummer

    We all need a cautionary tale from time to time. Sad that someone has to be the subject of it.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Life has a habit of letting you get comfortable with doing things the wrong way and then painfully and permanently calling you on it when you least expect it.

    You’ll probably be okay doing it this one time, and you’ll no doubt get away with it many times, but sooner or later you’ll get bitten.

    It’s why I always wear full gear on my bike. It’s why I always wear a seatbelt. It’s why I never walk around barefoot outdoors. It’s why I don’t involve myself with tattooed women.

    Risks are one thing, but I make an effort to only take calculated ones, and not bet more than I can afford to lose.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      If you’re lucky, you get a tolerable object lesson in giving respect where respect is due. In college I parked my VW in the back of a large Chevy due to paying more attention to the traffic light than to the traffic. It only cost me a small divot out of my nose and a few hairline scars on my forehead, but it gave me religion about seat belts.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        I guess I’m just thinking like a cop, in that I want to finish my day and fall asleep in my own bed with all of my parts intact.

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          Absolutely.

          You are a fluke of the universe.
          You have no right to be here.
          And whether you can hear it or not,
          The universe is laughing behind your back.

          • 0 avatar

            Somewhere, I think I have that on vinyl.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            Deteriorata, from the National Lampoon Radio Dinner album. It was meant to be a satire of the Desiderata, but I find that portions of it are deep wisdom in their own rights, e.g.

            Know what to kiss, and when.

            or

            And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        +1 on seat belts, thankfully for you it took a minor injury which I imagine in which you fully recovered. I had no warning and if I had not already been following the example I’d be in the ground as of March 14, 1997.

    • 0 avatar

      Where are you finding women without tattoos?

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Of the last ten women I’ve dated, I think six of them were tattoo-free.

        Unsurprisingly, they were also saner and had fewer “I can’t believe I let him to do that to me back in ’08” stories.

        • 0 avatar
          Scott.A

          I think 4/5 of my last girls I dated had tattoos. I didn’t ask the tinder or okcupid dates (ok, maybe there’s a selction bias here) who didn’t much look like their pictures. It seems everyone under 30 has them these days, even if it’s just a small butterfly on an ankle.

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-Iron

          But now they have “I can’t believe I let him to do that to me back in ’13” stories.

        • 0 avatar
          Piston Slap Yo Mama

          I knew a guy in high school who pimped himself out to lonely housewives at the local Orbit Hotel. We were taking a break from our computer science class while he updated a college ruled engineering notebook (the kind with tiny vertical lines) with neat pencilled data with columns labeled “Birth Control Type” or “Fetishes” and dozens of rows of unique names. He didn’t realize I was looking and stashed it away. I pointed out the numerous occasions I’d seen his Dodge Laser parked at the hotel as I came from my job at the grocery store, and he came clean on how he always, and I mean always had spare cash for cars and cool toys.
          Jack – when can we see your notebook? You can redact the names.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’ve got one, the last three were also tattoo free although two of three were country girls (current: 24, previous: 27, 25, 22 in descending order).

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Good question!
        Around where I live, women are rated on a scale of 1 to 10.
        They get one point for each tooth, and lose one for each tattoo.
        “Ten teeth and only three tattoos, man, she’s a solid 7!”

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Tattoos don’t scare me much…in fact, the craziest women I’ve had the “pleasure” of meeting have zero tattoos. Also, I have been guilty of browsing Suicide Girls sometimes…

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      “It’s why I always wear full gear on my bike.”

      Yes, yes and yes. If it’s too hot to wear full gear then it’s too hot to ride, IMO. I just shake my head seeing riders in shorts and flip-flops (let alone no helmets…boggles the mind). Ever since I started riding track years ago, nothing but full gear all the time. Road rash is nasty.

      • 0 avatar
        lon888

        My wife is a nurse for a liver transplant surgeon. Riders like you are describing tend to be great organ donors. My wife and the surgeon really appreciate their donations.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    In a year or two from now, we’ll have enough accounts for a different kind of (new) cautionary car tale.

    Selfie Sticks And The Car: You’re On Point

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Long ago, I had an acquaintance who was in a sort of similar accident with unfortunate consequences. Traveling in a rural area, he and a buddy were cruising and the buddy in the passenger seat had his feet out the window. There was an accident going around a corner and needless to say, the broken legs, broken back, etc was enough to remind me never to travel with feet in any other position than on the floor. As horrific as this is, hopefully its message is widespread as common sense is clearly not.

  • avatar

    Young women’s feet on the dashboard is distracting.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Every time I see somebody with their feet planted perilously upon a dash I get to wondering what injuries would likely result from the deployment of that airbag. Now I have a much better idea of just what sort of horrible pain and suffering is awarded to anybody without enough situational awareness to keep their feet off of the dash. I suppose in a hard enough impact with a reclined enough passenger some submarine action could take place landing the passenger in the footwell ass first after having their knees fed to them at more meters per second than they knew was possible.

    Feet on the dash, not even once.

  • avatar
    sproc

    Drove a couple of hours out to the beach the weekend before last. Seeing little feet with painted toes up on the passenger side dash seemed to be every other car or so. No idea how that’s comfortable, but then again, I refuse to explain or apologize for manspreading.

    I hadn’t really thought about just how dangerous that position can be, though. If it’s a bad enough issue, seems simple enough to put a pressure switch in the dashboard that activates a nanny light/chime if more than a couple of pounds is detected when the passenger airbag is armed.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Stupid Hurts.

    “and let’s face it, it’s always her”

    Yeah, guys hang a foot out the window because taller.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Oddly I only ever see two kinds of vehicles were this is happening.

    1. Crew cab pickup trucks in which the driver fits a male redneck stereotype and the passenger is an adult female who has her feet on the dash.

    2. Luxury and near luxury CUV/SUVs and the person with their feet on the dash is a bored female teenager somewhere between 13 and 20 who looks like they’d rather be anywhere else.

    When I see that I’m reminded of the vanity that can drive decisions like when my father (lawnmower salesman) sold a rear engine lawn mower to someone who might have been better served by a different product on the showroom floor.

    I remember asking him: “Why did Ed buy that lawnmower and not the one you recommend? He’s been a loyal customer for a decade.”

    Dad responded: “Well his wife likes to mow the lawn in a swimsuit and the rear engine mower allows her to get a more even tan.”

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Feet off the dash!

    Hands off my power supply!

    Don’t touch that dial!

    I remember the original article. Some shock value, there, but I thought it was an interesting direction for the site not fully pursued – like Deep Purple’s “Our Lady”.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Well, you can make the argument that the direction of putting non-work-safe photos on the front page, insulting the readers, and using TTAC as a kind of shock-blog *was* fully pursued, and that’s how I got the job of EIC afterwards.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        There is that…!

        But having a medical perspective on the automotive world would be interesting, in addition to the other viewpoints that we hear from regularly.

      • 0 avatar
        Ihateusernames

        It takes a lot to try and drive me away from a site once it becomes part of my routine. The nasty photos and shock blogging barely registered to me, and I never understood complaining about articles that didn’t interest me or were off topic, I can choose to skip over them.

        It was that terrible un-fact checked fluff job of an article about that defunct midwest car dealership that made me start to question the site back then, as after reading it I started to have to doubt the truth of the other articles I was reading, thereby making them less useful to me.

        I greatly appreciated the site the direction took soon thereafter. To the owners of the site it probably didn’t make much difference since I was clicking the same throughout and still do.

        At the moment I am in a similar position, the recent Ram 1500 and Buick Regal GS reviews left me confused and uninformed. I just noticed they were both by Aaron Cole, who created a lot of content on here I like, but also a lot of content in general. Overworked?

        I feel the core of this site was good reviews and information to help make informed purchases, or at least narrow possibilities down within a vehicle category. I hope that some more energy can be put in that direction on TTAC.

        If amputated digits can help fund that energy, bring ’em on!

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    I thought of that original article this weekend when I saw a DRIVER (!!!) with her left foot on the dash of her older Grand Cherokee driving through the city.

    Let’s break that down:
    * WTF 1: How the f*&% can you reach the pedals AND have your foot on the dash?!?
    * WTF 2: Was she steering with her ankle? There’s no way you get your left foot on that tiny sliver of dash between the door and steering wheel without jamming your shin into the steering wheel…
    * WTFs 3-100 omitted for brevity.

  • avatar
    sco

    Plus you’re gonna scratch up my dashboard esp if you’re wearing shoes. Put your feet on the floor where they belong, period.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Safety issues aside, I just think feet on the dashboard are disgusting. And feet with shoes will scratch the surface. Not a fan of the practice.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I think every woman I’ve ever dated has had too much sense to do this.

    Then again, I’ve never owned a jeep or an old truck — the vehicles where I usually see it.

    Thankfully, the only thing I have to argue with my wife about in the car is the temperature.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Feet on the dash may be distracting (and it’s always a her).

    But I’m waiting for the second part of this series, wherein the placement of her mouth leads to even greater distraction. And drastically more graphic NSFW images.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Also, feet up = higher risk of submarining under lap belt.

  • avatar
    Chan

    In modern cars with airbags, this is out of question.

    Even in older cars, just the thought of being poorly positioned for the seat beat gives me chills.

    Bad idea through and through. Plus, women doing this would distract most male drivers.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    I work in the medical field. Those pictures are totally suitable for my work and if someone sees me looking at them they would think I was actually working. I bet that the girls who put their feet on the dash also sit cross-legged wearing shoes on chairs and desks. They’re probably the ones who sit on the floor at airports too.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    A female friend of ours did this, while probably half asleep (she doesn’t remember the crash), in an 80’s Opel Ascona (imagine an even cheaper Cadillac Cimmaron), as her then boyfriend overtook another car and then hit an oncoming Volvo 245. ‘Luckily’ the Ascona had no airbags, but I guess you can imagine what the car looked like after going head on with what is basically a tank at roughly 60mph.
    Surprisingly enough all four kids in the car survived, the driver had some scars on his face, one of the rear passengers broke an arm (none of them were wearing seatbelts!!!)
    As the driver had blood all over his face (broken nose), and the others looked OK on the outside, he was the one who got the attention first from the paramedics. Our friend just complained about some backpain, and was overlooked for hours, as no one seemed to think being ‘speedcompacted’ a** first into the foot well of an 80’s compact car could lead to any serious injuries…
    Turns out she had shattered a few vertebrates in her lower back, and now she can barely lift anything heavier than a 2year old , and has a massive scar from all the surgery on her lower back.
    Point is, this was always a dangerous thing to do, even before airbags. She was lucky she didn’t just fly out of the windscreen feet first, being asleep probably saved her, as she didn’t tense up like you would if you knew what was happening.

    • 0 avatar
      claytori

      Being asleep when a bad accident happens has benefits. My sister’s best friend in high school was in the front passenger seat in a similar collision. The driver was killed. She was only shaken up badly, being asleep with the seatbelt on. The lack of tensed muscles really does reduce the chance of injury. The other benefit is that there is no memory of the incident.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    Nothing folds up like an envelope in an accident quite like a GM J-body. Take that from someone who used to work in emergency services when these cockroach cars were EVERYWHERE. Always reminds me of this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-ReoBPl4mM

    Riding around in a Transformer can be dangerous.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Where are the “stand-up with the t-tops off” stories?

    That was my first ticket at 16 (the passenger was standing). She said she’d pay half the ticket, and I’m still waiting decades later.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I don’t understand how this story is graphic. It’s tragic, but not graphic. It could be that my girlfriend is an RN and I’m hearing bits and pieces of strange things that happen during her workday, but this isn’t the most graphic thing I’ve heard.

    One of my uncles is a mortician. During a cremation, the retort (technical term for crematory) failed beyond repair 30 minutes into the process and basically self-destructed beyond repair as it was very old. Let’s just say that that him and the other staff had to tactfully retrieve the remains and then transport them twenty miles to another facility in biohazard bags. This scenario would be considered graphic, especially if photos were shown.

    That said, I see people all the time with their feet propped up on the dashboard; for some reason, I notice that vacationers from a different state are the worst offender. Makes me wonder why they don’t get out and stretch.

  • avatar
    fiasco

    I shudder to think what would have happened to the woman DRIVING the clapped-out Plymouth Voyager with her left foot hanging out the window on the mirror on Interstate 89 had she had to take evasive action at 70 mph. Mind you, she spent eight miles clogging the left lane until I could blast by before the driver’s side rocker panel finished its slow ferrous oxide slide to the pavement.

    It’s just like that old saying about bugs and windshields: “What’s the last thing to go through her mind when the airbag goes off? Her kneecap.”

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    “…the real tragedy is in what happens in the long years after you leave the trauma surgeon’s office.”

    The above is sound advice. But humans, especially the young and female, are poor at evaluating risk and expectation. It’s even worse for extreme low probability events with extremely large consequences.

    Young MEN essentially ignore advice – pointing out that trauma injuries and pain their meds often crater bedroom ‘performance’ rarely registers…

  • avatar
    MrBostn

    The photos from the original story are not NSFW. Nudity/sexuality can get me fired, gore/cut off toes will not get me fired. Big difference.

    In high school, I’d get some finger bowl action when my gf put her feet on the dash…

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    I tell my girlfriend this every time and she always gets pissy about it and points out all the other idiots in other cars doing this. What is it with women and putting their feet on the dash by the airbag?! My female friends try this nonsense too.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    I tell my girlfriend this every time and she always gets pissy about it and points out all the other idiots in other cars doing this. What is it with women and putting their feet on the dash by the airbag?! My female friends try this nonsense too.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    I tell my girlfriend this every time and she always gets angry about it and points out all the other women in other cars doing this. What is it with women and putting their feet on the dash by the airbag?! My female friends try this nonsense too.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Excellent point about being out-braked by an 18-wheeler and it needed to be said.

    Goes along with the is driving is a privilege or is it a right? If you’re that bad at driving then you don’t really have a right to be on the same roads as people who are good at it.

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