The most dangerous ways to sit in a car

When it comes to driving and cars, you’ve heard of bad drivers, but what about bad sitters? By now, most of us know we should buckle up when we get in a car, but did you know that HOW and WHERE you ride in a car can have a massive impact on your safety if you’re involved in a car accident.

“Many cars nowadays are made with such advanced safety features, but how we sit in a car is often our biggest safety precaution,” says Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options.

Below are some of the riskiest ways to sit in a car:

Feet on dashboard

If you’re sitting in the front passenger seat with your feet on the dashboard, it changes the way the seat belt rests on your body. If you’re involved in an accident, your upper body could flip over the belt, causing injury to your abdomen and back. 

If the front airbags are deployed, your knees would be pushed into your face. Airbags usually inflate at about 320km/h, it won’t surprise you that this could cause considerable damage to your feet, legs, and head, and in fact your entire body.  

Passenger seat reclined

As with your feet on the dashboard, when you recline the passenger seat, the seat belt no longer fits the way it is meant to. Instead of fitting over the chest and lap, it moves to your neck and abdomen, and in an accident, this could damage your neck and internal organs. 

Wearing the seat belt under your arm

The seat belt is designed to fit your body in a certain way. When it’s over your shoulder, it crosses over your collarbone, which is strong. When you wear the seat belt under your arm, it crosses your ribs, which are weaker than your collarbone. Additionally, when the seat belt is under your arm and you’re involved in an accident, it is unable to stop your torso from propelling forward and colliding with the airbag that’s deploying at 320km/h.

Third row seats

Third row seats are not usually as stable as middle and front row seats. They are usually placed quite close to the rear of the vehicle, which means passengers in the third row are more likely to be injured in a rear-end collision.

Riding with a child or dog on your lap

Riding as a passenger in the front seat with your child or dog on your lap is dangerous, again, because of the speed at which your airbag inflates. Positioned between you and your airbag, your child or pet would be seriously injured (if not killed) and the force at which they slam into your abdomen could cause serious internal injuries too.

“Children should always be safely secured in the back seat, with the correct child’s seat for their weight and height. Pets are also safest if they’re wearing a harness that is buckled to the seatbelt or in a secured carrier,” advises Smit.

“The safest spot for adult passengers is usually the least comfortable spot: The middle of the back seat is the safest place in a car. (If you have three rows, it would be the middle seat in the middle row.) Adults in this seat are usually the furthest from the point of impact and they are insulated by the other passengers. However, this spot is ONLY the safest spot if the car is equipped with a secure seat belt for this seat.”