Ask a Trooper: Injury can result from putting legs on dash

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

Question: We were driving down the interstate the other day, and I was passed by a vehicle and I noticed the front passenger had their feet up on the front dash. This was a newer vehicle so I know there are air bags and this got me wondering if this was legal.

Troy Christianson

Answer:  What you saw is not illegal, but it was certainly not safe. People never intend to be involved in a crash, but it can happen at any time.  One danger people forget about is deer. They are one of the most common things motorists hit that deploy air bags. I’ve responded to and investigated crashes that became more serious because a passenger had their legs stretched out and feet placed upon the dashboard. The deployment of the airbag is usually within 25 or 50 milliseconds. That translates to almost 200 miles per hour. 

Placing your leg(s) on the dash can result in serious injuries if an air bag deploys. No object (stickers, decals, anything) should be placed over or near the air bag on the instrument panel or steering wheel because they could cause additional harm if the vehicle is involved in a collision.

Air bags are designed to work with seat belts to keep vehicle occupants in a safe position during a crash.  Air bags are not effective if the motorist is not belted properly.

Always buckle up and insist passengers are belted, too. In a crash, unbelted motorists can become a projectile, slamming into and injuring or killing others inside a vehicle. Wear lap belts low and snug across the hips; shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back — not only is this unsafe, it is illegal. Children under age 13 should always ride in the back seat. Kids under 4-feet 9-inches should be in a booster seat.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or reach him at Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.