Driving With A Foot Out The Window


Driving With Foot Out Window

I saw this while driving down the road recently. A person just tooling down a major road with their foot hanging out the window.

What possesses people do drive with their feet out the window? I see it every once in a while from both drivers and passengers. This time my daughter just happened to be in the car with me so she could catch this picture.

I did a quick search of the internet and of the medical literature and wasn’t able to find any specific literature on the potential downsides from driving like this.

I was, however, able to find other pictures/posts/comments …
calling a driver doing this a “jackass,”
noting that the practice was awkward and potentially dangerous,
stating that a person driving in this manner is “white trash skank,”
stating that driving this way is illegal in Delaware,
noting that a driver in Australia who was pictured with both feet out a window had been charged with “reckless conduct endangering life, failure to have proper control of a vehicle, careless driving, and limbs protruding from a vehicle,” and
a comment noting that the practice was something worthy of circus people.

So if driving with your feet out the window doesn’t hurt anyone and it feels nice to have a breeze blowing on your bare feet while traveling at 50 MPH, then why shouldn’t we do it?
Here are some of my thoughts.

First, you look like a freak when you drive with your foot out the window. It isn’t cool. It isn’t funny. It looks low class and smarmy. Yes I’m old and out of touch with the younger generation. You still look like a smarmy whippersnapper when you drive with your foot out the window.

Next, when you drive with your foot out the window, your foot and/or leg is blocking your view of the driver’s mirror. That makes you less able to see your surroundings and more prone to getting into an accident.

With your leg in that position, you are probably less able to shift your body to turn and look in your blind spot when changing lanes or making a turn. That makes you more likely to hit a vehicle approaching you on your driver’s side.

Finally, pretend for a moment that you get into an accident with your foot hanging out the window. Think of what will happen to your body …

If you rear-end someone and your air bag deploys, momentum will carry your body forward while the airbag forces your hanging leg into flexion and external rotation. Ever popped a chicken leg off a cooked chicken?
Your knee will probably hyperextend as well, so you’ll be in a position where you’ll potentially have no knee ligaments and no hip joint.
The anterior force on your driving leg combined with the posterior force on your leg out the window will cause a shearing force on your pelvis which may be enough to snap your pelvis like a pretzel. Pelvis fractures are potentially life threatening, tough to rehab, and carry multiple serious complications.

If you’re involved in a rollover accident, it’s even worse. You won’t have time to pull your foot back in the vehicle and the edge of the window will hold your foot in place as the several tons of car rolls on top of it, mangling your foot if you’re lucky and just ripping it from your leg if you’re not so lucky. If the roof collapses from the rollover impact, then your knee and lower leg will get caught up in the mangled metal – which may prevent you from getting out of the car.

Look at the bright side, though. If you survive a serious accident with your leg hanging out the window, at least they have a lot of advanced leg prosthetics you can choose from.

Anyone got any stories about trauma from drivers or passengers with their feet out the windows?


  1. I just content myself to think of the effect of the airbag going off against rather sensitive organs that are being presented to the steering wheel in that position.

    Because people doing this almost certainly aren’t wearing seatbelts.

  2. “… as the several tons of car rolls on top of it, mangling your foot if you’re lucky and just ripping it from your leg if you’re not so lucky.” As a former ER nurse, I believe you have the “luck” equation backward. Might be better to just lose the danged thing up front. Just visualizing the possible outcomes from even a relatively minor fender-bender is painful.

    As a child, and sometimes as an irresponsible teen, I used to enjoy riding like this – but always when a passenger, never as a driver. I whined and complained when my parents ordered that all four limbs had to be securely contained within the vehicle to prevent losing one of them. I was so confident that this would never happen and my parents were just being unreasonable.

    Then, the patient who lost an arm in precisely this manner came into my ED. Of course, he didn’t have just his elbow resting on the rolled down window. He was, I guess, stretching – or maybe airing out his whole arm – at the very moment that an impatient bus driver cut into a break in the traffic. The bus driver was driving a little too quickly for the tight space he was maneuvering through and he never even realized that his large side-view mirror had picked up a passenger of its own – he kept going. The arm was recovered by a passerby, but I never learned whether the attempted reattachment was successful. More common were the injuries to bicyclists and motorcyclists when they were struck by someone’s errant limb. (I can see the intake sheet now … “Bicyclist lost control of his bike after being kicked in the head by motorist…”)TCG

  3. TheDenverPack on

    Worked in rehab/burn center at a Level I trauma center. I’ve cared for a few patients where this happened. 1 arm degloved and bones crushed (driver was t-boned by another driver that ran a red light). 1 leg ended up being an AKA. It’s never pretty. And I must have commented about it enough while driving around that now anytime we see anyone hanging an extremity outside of a car, my kids go, “there’s someone who doesn’t value their foot/leg/arm.”

  4. YIKES to the latter part of your post and the comments.

    I had a friend who put her foot on the dash and I liked to sit on my left leg just as if on a sofa. We were in our 20s though and not skanks. I guess we sis it just because we could.

    Admittedly, I still like to do that thing with my hand when a passenger where you move your cupped hand up and down and it glides on the wind like a roller coaster. But have been mindful of our surroundings.

    The dumbest car thing I ever did (aside from totaling one when I was 17), no actually it was the DUMBEST …was that as a front seat passenger I decided to climb out the window, sit on the unlocked door while I held on to the roof. We went through two towns on a winding, hilly, and major local road. I loved the feeling of the wind blowing through my long hair and it was all so exhilarating. Freeing. I’d be apoplectic if my kids or anyone ever did that now. Ignorance is bliss until an accident happens.

    Here is the story of my totaling a car that no one should’ve lived through …or even come out of without a with disability. I’ll always believe God directed Angels were with us. It just wasn’t our time.


  5. What an irony –and potential double tragedy– it would have been if the author/driver/photographer lost control of his own vehicle, striking his subject, while obtaining the photo that accompanies this article!

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