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Don’t put your feet up

Dear Annie: Every day, I see kids in the front passenger seat with their feet on the dashboard.

This is incredibly dangerous. In a low-impact crash that does not signal air bag deployment, this body position has moved the seat belt, assuming it’s being used, off the waist and onto the abdomen, and near the throat. Worse, though, is the knees are in completely the wrong orientation to flex and move with the force of the crash.

Air bags deploy beginning with moderate crashes, defined as hitting a parked car at about 20 mph. In other words, almost every crash deploys the air bags. An air bag deploying directly under the feet can lead to devastating, life-altering injuries to the feet, ankles, knees, hip and tendons.

An air bag system must detect a crash of enough force and then fully deploy the air bags in less than 80 milliseconds, which is less than one-tenth of one second. The fundamental point is for the head and torso to contact a fully deployed air bag (now an air pillow). Contact with the surface of an air bag that is still expanding at great speed results in facial injuries, as well as possible upper torso injuries.

In fact, on impact, the air bag is already deflating. This is why air bags are in no way an excuse to not wear seat belts, which slow your body’s forward motion until the air bag is fully inflated. — Concerned Driver

Dear Concerned Driver: Not only is putting your feet on the dashboard incredibly dangerous, as your letter points out, it’s also unattractive and bad manners. It is on the same level of rudeness with putting your feet on the table. Yuck.

Dear Annie: Your advice to the woman whose sister did not want to quit smoking won’t work. Quietly looking into alternatives to quit smoking is like giving diets to an overweight friend. You lose the weight when YOU decide to, and you quit the smokes the same way.

As a formerly overweight smoker who lost the weight eight years ago, and quit smoking 25 years ago, I knew I needed to do these things long before I actually did them. The sister doesn’t need reminders to quit, information on how or scolding. She knows she should quit. All her sister can really do is ask her not to smoke in her presence.

This is one of those journeys each person starts on their own. The time for support is after the journey begins. Good luck to them both! — Former Smoker

Dear Former Smoker: I am printing your letter for its personal experience and great points. With any addiction, the addict has to want to stop on their own. Once they make that commitment, you can offer a ton of support.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now. Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Go to http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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