When I was a kid, there was a cartoon called “There Oughta be a Law”.  The cartoon took a humorous look at some of the absurdities our species gravitates toward long before the “Darwin Awards” books became popular. The inference was if there were laws against doing silly things, people might not do them.  Having practiced law since 1987, I can attest to the fact laws do not stop foolishness.  There are plenty of laws designed to keep us safe which are ignored by large sections of the population.

One such mistake which almost rose to the level of a Darwin Award (you have to die or remove yourself from the breeding population to win one of those) involved a former neighbor of mine. I’ll call her Wanda because there are no Wandas in my life and so this won’t offend anyone I know.

Airbags have saved lots of lives since they became standard equipment, but like any safety/rescue tool they have to be used correctly or they can and will cause harm.  Wanda hadn’t given much thought to this prior to putting her foot on the dashboard in her car. She was a passenger when there was a collision with another vehicle.  The airbag did what it was designed to do……it deployed quickly and with great force.

Wanda’s upper body was slouched back in her seat.  Her foot being elevated and on the dash, it was her leg which came into contact with the inflating airbag.  The airbag forced her leg back and up, ripping tendons and ligaments and breaking a bone.  The human leg isn’t designed to move so far with such force and speed.  It was a very painful and unnecessary injury.  Wanda was in a cast and bedridden for many weeks.  Had her foot been on the floor, the airbag would have fulfilled its function and protected her upper body without causing such extreme injury to another part of her body.

Even if the accident had been the fault of the driver of the other car, there would be an issue of comparative negligence, i.e. since Wanda helped cause her own injury, any award she might receive would be reduced by the percentage she was deemed to helped cause the harm.

There are currently a number of recalls and lawsuits pertaining to Takata airbags.  This is due to a number of people being killed or seriously injured by defective airbags.  For more information, go to:  http://fortune.com/2016/06/10/the-takata-airbag-recall-is-now-a-full-blown-crisis/

The point of this blog is not to discuss defective airbags or comparative negligence.  I am writing because I frequently see people making Wanda’s mistake.  Having seen how badly she was hurt, I cringe every time I see a car go by with feet on the dash.  The first time my teenage daughter tried this move while I was driving, she heard about it from me.  To her credit, she took me seriously.

Maybe there should be a cartoon called “A Word to the Wise”?

  • Posted by Michael Madhusudan Blumert October 18, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Thanks for the heads up to avoid the legs up!


Leave a reply