Why You Should Not Cross Your Legs in a Car

Vehicle safety features improve every year, but the number of injuries and deaths from car collisions are not dropping. Experts think that driving behavior is the problem.

Safe driving habits can prevent a lot of accidents, but what is you are not the driver? How can you stay safe as a passenger?

The good news is, knowing the correct way of sitting in a vehicle can lower your odds of serious injury. Read on to learn what you can do to keep yourself safe.

If you have ever been on an extended road trip, you may have felt the urge to put one leg over the other or even put your feet up on the dashboard. While putting your feet on the dashboard is obviously dangerous and distracting, you might not realize that even crossing your legs can lead to serious injury. To help you avoid injury in a potential car accident, you need to explore two reasons why you should not cross your legs in the car.

Dashboard Knee

Even with your feet on the ground, most car wrecks have some risk of “dashboard knee,” an injury where your knee hits the dashboard or glovebox at high speed. This can cause the ligament between your knee to be strained, sprained, or even torn. Not only is this very painful, but severe cases may require knee surgery or knee replacement.

While dashboard knee can happen in any auto accident, the risk is significantly increased when your cross your legs because your knees are higher and closer to the dashboard. Additionally, crossing your legs relates to a higher overall risk of injuries in a car collision and dramatically increased the risk of pelvic injuries.


When an airbag deploys in a severe auto crash, passengers are less likely to experience dashboard knee but are far more likely to suffer more severe injuries. That is because airbags deploy with the energy of a small explosion. When the force of a deploying airbag hits your knee, it can cause catastrophic injuries.

A deploying airbag will force your body backward. If your legs are crossed or on the dashboard, your entire leg will be forced backward. In some cases, this can lead to the hip joint being dislocated or even pelvic fractures.

It is better to be safe then sorry. Next time you find yourself crossing your legs in the passenger seat, take a moment to reconsider. Cars are designed to protect you, but only if you are seated correctly. That means you are facing forward, with your seat belt on, and both legs on the floor.

The Upright Position Is the Safest Position for Sitting in the Car

If you have flown on an airplane, you were probably shown how to brace for impact by covering your face with your arms and pressing your head against the seat in front of you. That is safe on airplanes, but not in vehicles.

The safest position in a car is to sit upright, like you would in a chair. Sit with your feel flat on the floor with your back resting against as much of the seat as possible.

Car companies design airbags and other safety features under the assumption that all passengers will sit in an upright position. If you are sitting with your legs crossed, feet on the dashboard, or laying down in the backseat, the airbags will not protect you as well. Sit upright and you will have the least change of getting an injury.

Wear a Seatbelt and Adjust Your Headrest

If you are wondering how to survive a car collision, the only thing more important than sitting upright is wearing a seatbelt. It will keep you secure and will lower your risk for serious injury.

Headrests will also protect you during an auto accident. If they are adjusted correctly, they can lower the effects of whiplash, a neck sprain that can cause headaches or dizziness.

The top of the headrest should sit just below the top of your head. If you are in an auto wreck, the headrest will keep your head from whipping back and forth.

The Rear Middle Seat Is the Safest Seat Location

The back seat is more protected from head-on crashes than the front seats. But the back seats are still vulnerable to side accidents. That is why the middle seat in the back is the safest spot, since it is basically the center of the vehicle.

But this seat is only safe when the passenger is wearing a lap and shoulder seat belt.

In fact, backseat passengers who do not wear seatbelts are three times more likely to get killed in a car crash. Without a seatbelt, the rear center passenger could get ejected through the car’s windshield.

Is It Safe To Hang Your Arms and Legs Out the Car Window?

While it is tempting to feel the breeze on your skin, hanging arms or legs out the car window is just asking for an injury. Body parts could strike objects or even another vehicle, or a sudden accident could expose your body to an unnecessary injury, including even potentially losing a limb. Hanging body parts out the window is not safe, especially in the event of a car collision.

Sitting Too Close to the Steering Wheel Is Dangerous

An airbag deploys at 200 mph, so when you are sitting too close to the steering wheel, your body receives the full impact of the deployment. Ideally, the airbag should contact the body after it fully deploys to reduce the brunt of the impact. The recommended distance is 10 inches from the center of the steering wheel to your chest.


Sometimes car accidents are unavoidable, so it is important to get in the habit of sitting in a vehicle in the upright position whenever you ride in a car. That way you will already be sitting in the safest possible position.

Unfortunately, prevention only helps before the collision.

If you have been injured in a car wreck, we can help. The Law Offices of Larry B. Litt specialize in injury auto accident claims. We are based in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation appointment at 443-844-1528. We will help you start your road to recovery.