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Crash survivor warns why you should never prop up your feet up on a car dashboard

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Posted at 10:36 AM, Aug 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-14 16:23:49-04

You’ve seen them before: Relaxed passengers with their feet out a car window or propped up on the dashboard while driving down the interstate.

It seems like no big deal, but modern cars and airbags are designed to work when people’s feet are planted on the floorboard. 

Audra Tatum of Walker County, Georgia, learned that the hard way when her husband T-boned a car at moderate speed in August 2015. 

Her foot, which was resting on the dash, smashed into her face when the airbag deployed, according to the Today Show. Tatum ended up breaking her right ankle, femur, shoulder and nose in the incident, but doctors said she would have been fine had her feet been on the floor.

"It's changed the rest of my life,'' Tatum told Today. "I am limited now for the rest of my life. I am 33 years old with a handicapped tag on my car."

Tatum said she had just graduated and had hoped to become an emergency medical technician, but the accident meant she was unable to perform functions necessary for the job.

"This one simple mistake made such a huge impact on our whole family's lives,'' Tatum’s husband Nick said. "It just tore her up and you just don't get over stuff like that. You can only heal so far, and scar tissue doesn't change and things that were broken didn't grow back the same way."

Tatum’s story came to light when Bruce Garner of the Chattanooga Fire Department posted a similar warning to their Facebook page earlier this month, noting that airbags deploy at 100 to 220 mph.