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Many front seat passengers have done it at some point; especially females. They are on a road trip or vacation. They want to stretch out and get comfortable. They might even take off their shoes (got to admire that new pedicure for the week at the beach). Then, the feet go up on the dashboard. Ah, that feels good! No harm, right?

Wrong! While seemingly harmless, putting your feet on the dashboard is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Ask Bethany Benson.

On August 2, 2010, around 5 p.m., Bethany and her then boyfriend were returning home from visiting family in Michigan. Her boyfriend was behind the wheel of her mom’s 2002 Sunfire. Bethany wanted to get comfortable and take a nap. She reclined her seat a little and propped her feet up on the dashboard. Soon, she nodded off. The couple was on Highway 401 near London, Ontario when they approached an accident. A tractor-trailer in front of them hit its brakes to avoid that accident. Bethany’s boyfriend hit the brakes too, but was unable to avoid slamming into the back of the tractor-trailer.

The impact of the crash crumpled the front of the Sunfire. Fortunately, Bethany and her boyfriend were both wearing their seatbelts, which is credited with saving their lives. Her boyfriend was able to pull himself from the mangled vehicle. He was cut by flying glass and required 100 stitches to his face, hands, chest and neck. He pulled Bethany from the wreckage, but she was unconscious; she didn’t wake up until the next day.

When her airbag deployed, the force hit Bethany’s legs at 200 mph (the speed of a Formula One race car), The pressure threw her legs upward, through the windshield. Bethany’s knees slammed backwards into her face, breaking her nose, left eye socket, and cheekbone. Her jaw was dislocated and a tooth cut through her lower lip. Both feet were broken and compressed; they are now nearly 2 sizes smaller than before the crash. She must wear special shoes (cost $180) to fit custom shoe inserts ($450). Bethany’s left pupil remains permanently dilated affecting her vision; her hearing remains altered and she has significant memory loss. Bethany used to be bilingual; not any more. She even had to relearn much of her English. Of all her injuries, the bleeding in her brain was the most crippling.

It’s been almost six years since that tragic day. Bethany still suffers from lingering complications. She takes several medications every day and has irreversible brain damage. She may never recover completely. Her mom says that Bethany has the mental capacity of a 13-year-old, and she also has anger issues.

Bethany’s story is a reminder of just how dangerous it can be to put your feet on the dashboard. Even if you don’t fall asleep, often, there is no time to react in the event of a sudden collision, and airbags deploy in three tenths of a second with an extremely powerful force. Bethany made a mistake that day, one many of us have probably made. She is now paying the price the rest of her life.

It’s not just feet on the dash that can be dangerous in a crash. How many times have you put a bag of groceries or a gift on your lap out of convenience? How many times have you allowed your pet to sit on your lap during a car ride? Carrying things on your lap – groceries, a pet, and packages – can be lethal; the impact of a collision can force the item(s) back into your chest by the airbag. A moment of comfort or convenience isn’t worth a potential lifetime of pain, suffering and possibly disability.

Lawsuit Financial encourages its readers to share Bethany’s story. This simple precaution could prevent others from paying the same price as Bethany.

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