One Georgia mom learned a hard lesson in car safety while driving with her husband one day.
Audra Tatum, mother of three, rode in the passenger seat as her husband drove; they were headed to her parent's house to pick up their sons. The two were relaxed as they drove the short distance — about four miles — not anticipating any trouble in the few minutes it took to drive the familiar route.
But suddenly, a car pulled out in front of their path, and there was no way to avoid T-boning the vehicle.
Though frightening, the car accident was mild; Tatum's husband and the passengers in the other car were able to walk away with nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises. But the incident left Tatum much worse off. She received brutal injuries with life-long damage, all because of one seemingly innocent mistake:
She had her feet up on the dashboard.
The accident happened over two years ago, but Tatum has decided to speak up publicly about it because she still faces serious repercussions today.
In the millisecond it took for the airbags to deploy, Tatum broke her nose, ankle, femur and arm.
"Basically my whole right side was broken, and it's simply because of my ignorance," Tatum said. "I'm not Superman. I couldn't put my foot down in time."
After several surgeries and many physical therapy sessions, Tatum has improved but will never be back to normal. She worked as an EMS prior to the accident, but her injuries now prevent her from being able to do the daily activities her career required of her, like lifting patients and standing on her feet for long periods of time.
"All my life I had my legs crossed and my foot on the dash," Tatum said. "My husband always told me, 'You're going to get in a wreck someday, and you're going to break your legs.'"
But Tatum didn't listen, assuring him she'd be fine and she'd be able to put her foot down in time, if an accident were to ever happen.
She didn't anticipate the reality of airbag speed and power: a typical airbag deploys in about 55 milliseconds at 100-220 m.p.h., leaving no time for any person to move their feet in time.
Many of us have ridden passenger with our feet up on the dashboard without any serious percussions. We've been lucky — for now.
I keep telling everybody, you don't want this life," Tatum said. "You don't want the pain and agony every day."
Tennessee's Chattanooga Fire Department posted a viral Facebook warning about the dangers of riding in this position, after seeing several people in the area recently riding this way.
"If you ride with your feet on the dash and you're involved in an accident, the airbag may send your knees through your eye sockets," the department warned.
But with the slight chance you could get in accident while your feet are up is not worth the risk of permanent bodily damage.
"If I can save one person from doing this and they're not going through it, that would be wonderful," Tatum said.