Everyone knows that the one of the first things you do when you get into a car is to put on your seatbelt. It’s been drilled into us from a young age – and for good reason. Countless lives have been saved by just clicking the seat belt, and other measures such as air bags and proper car seat procedures.
Thankfully, seat belt use has been increasing steadily since 2000. Seat belt use in 2016 reached 90.1%, up from 88.5% in 2015 . This is good news for every driver on the road.
However, some there are some less common habits that are just as dangerous.
Audra Tatum’s Story
Before August 2nd, 2015, Audra Tatum used to ride around with her feet on the dashboard. “My husband would tell me, ‘If we have a wreck it’s going to break your leg.’ I dismissed him,” Tatum said. Well 2 years ago, her perspective changed completely.
“We were heading to my parents’ to pick up our two sons. A car came up to a stop sign and we were coming down the road and he pulled out in front of us…we T-boned him,” she described.
At the time of the accident, Audra wasn’t wearing a seat belt with her foot on the dashboard. “When the airbag exploded, it pushed my foot up into my face,” she said. Her nose, ankle, femur, and shoulder were broken by the impact.
A Facebook post by the Chattanooga Fire Department explains just why riding with your feet on the dashboard is 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. 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.”
At the hospital, doctors told Audra that if she had just had both feet on the ground she “wouldn’t have had any issues whatsoever.” It’s two years later and Audra is still recovering.
Now she wants everyone to learn from her mistake. “I regret it every single day. Every hour of every day because every time I put pressure on my leg I feel it…do not sit like that. If you sit like that, you’re asking for it.”
Tips To Help You Drive Safely
Now everyone, or hopefully everyone that drives, knows the basic rules to follow to make sure they drive safely. Check your mirrors, signal before switching lanes or turning, follow the speed limit, etc. But there are also some less-known tips to follow to make sure you drive safely the next time you’re out on the road.
Feet Out Of The Window
While it might feel nice to have your feet propped up, sticking out of the window on a long road trip, it can have a lot of the same results as keeping them on the dashboard. It also carries the added danger of being hit, caught, or cut by other cars on the road, not to mention it poses a distraction for other drivers.
Driving While Drowsy
Driving when you’re tired can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America poll, 60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people – say they have driven a vehicle while feeling tired in the past year, and more than one-third, (37% or 103 million people), have said that they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel .
If you’re getting behind the wheel, you need to be alert at all times. Americans have been getting less and less sleep on average going from 7-8 hours a night to 6-7, and besides other health issues, it compromises your ability to drive. You have slower reflexes and can be absentminded.
Put Down The Snack
The use of phones while driving is known to be a distraction, but what about food? Have you ever been driving down the highway, looked over, and saw someone struggling with a burger, fries, and the wheel? It can be pretty terrifying to say the least. The meal can wait, and if it can’t, eat before you drive.
Car Mirrors Should Be Used For Safety, Not Vanity
While cars do have interior mirrors you can use to check yourself out, it’s not a good idea to use them while you’re driving. The temptation to shave or put on makeup while you drive can be tempting, but what’s more important: having to get there a little late because you still need to get ready, or get into an accident by not paying attention to the road? The choice seems to be pretty clear.
Driving has become such an everyday part of our routine that sometimes we forget how much responsibility we take into our hands when we grip that steering wheel. Let’s all try to remember these rules and the other rules of the road to make sure that everyone gets to where they’re going.