With safety being such a paramount consideration in cars, the term ‘airbag’ is likely now more widely associated as being a catch-all for faring well in the event of an accident. But what happens if you obstruct their operational pattern with, say, feet? Nothing good.
Airbags, all those recalls aside, are offered in even the most basic of cars on the market today, with more expensive models using its higher count and location (of airbags) as selling points. But airbags, much like seatbelts, need to be used the right way for them to have effect.
In contrast, airbag operation is a much more high-impact, even violent, proceeding. Given its nature of detonating and deploying within milliseconds, requiring an inflation velocity of around 320km/h. Of course, if it goes like it should, the airbags inflate and saved our lives before we even have had time to blink.
For Bethany Benson, who was 22-years old (now 26) by the August of 2010, her seemingly innocuous snap decision to rest her feet up on the dashboard before falling asleep while her then-boyfriend was at the wheel of a Pontiac Sunfire during a long trip back between Michigan, US, and Oshawa, Canada, was one she wish she could take back.
An accident ahead forced a lorry to stop suddenly, leaving the Sunfire with Bethany in it very little time to avoid running into its rear. From the picture above, it’s remarkable to think anyone survived. Bethany, however, suffered a list of additional injuries.
You can read about the full story here, but here’s an excerpt:
This [the airbag] is what hit Bethany’s hamstrings, driving her knees into her face. Her left eye socket and cheekbone were broken, as was her nose. Her jaw was dislocated, a tooth cut through her lower lip and she would lose her spleen. Both feet were broken and compressed, and would eventually end up nearly 2 sizes smaller than they were before the crash. Her left pupil would remain permanently dilated affecting her vision, her hearing would remain altered and her memory would be wiped and rebooted like a faulty computer program. But perhaps the most dangerous injury would be the one her mother was told at the time not to worry about: a brain bleed.
Bethany is recovering, but had sustained brain damage leaving her with the maturity not of a 22-year old, but a hormonal teenager of 14, according to her mother. She is slowly regaining her most deeply-rooted memories and pre-crash personality.
Lifestyle changes, however, are more drastic with her requiring special orthopaedic shoe inserts and not being able to participate in certain activities that are common for a 26 year-old.
So, dear readers, remember that leaving your legs up on the dashboard is one of the worst things you could do in the event of a crash. Should you need to stretch your legs a little, just pull over to a rest area and have a little break, maybe a short walkabout. You need that after a long journey of sitting stationary in a car.
Have a look at how airbags deploy in super slow motion. Check out how quickly they inflate and just imagine if you had your feet (or anything else) in the way. Yikes. Airbags can save our lives, for sure, but we've gotta let them do their thing without getting in the way.