If you think that riding in the back seat of a car is safer in the event of a collision, you may want to reconsider that assumption, according to new research.
At one point in time, back-seat car occupants were generally safer than those in the front seat. Due to enhanced vehicle designs and emerging safety technology, it's now safer to be in the front seat during a crash.
Advancing technology for front seat safety
Car manufacturers have made huge gains in protecting front-seat occupants, according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study.
For one, the synergistic effect of seatbelts and airbags apply only to front seat occupants. In addition, researchers have discovered that rear seatbelts are less likely to have pre-tensioners, which automatically tighten up during a collision. Rear seatbelts are also less likely to have force limiters that stretch and lower chest loads, as well.
Other significant technological changes to the front seat include:
- Electronic stability control – assists drivers in maintaining steering control during poor traction.
- Forward collision warning – monitors the speed and following distance between two cars and sounds an alert when a collision risk is detected.
- Automatic braking – automatically applies brakes if an imminent collision is detected.
- Improved crumple zone – the front area of a car that absorbs the impact of a crash.
The greatest risks faced by back-seat occupants
In a frontal crash, rear seatbelts were found to cause chest, abdominal, and spinal injuries, according to the IIHS and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The study also scrutinized frontal crashes that killed or seriously injured 117 back-seat passengers and found:
- The most common injuries among passengers wearing seatbelts were to the chest.
- The majority of the 37 fatalities occurred in crashes considered "survivable."
- Head injuries were responsible for nine injuries and 18 fatalities.
The risks faced by back-seat occupants have finally raised concerns among researchers and automakers. The IIHS hopes to have back-seat crash tests done by 2022 in order to allow buyers to compare safety features in new cars.
In the meantime, passengers continue to face these unnecessary risks. That's why if you were injured in a crash as a back-seat passenger, you should know your rights. Your crash could have been caused by the negligent actions of your driver or another motorist.
If you're concerned that pursuing a car accident claim will compromise your relationship with a friend or loved one, just know that your driver will most likely not have to pay out of his or her pocket.
An experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorney at the Law Offices of Edward P. McNelis can discuss your legal options with you and devise a strategy to help you recover every penny you're entitled to. To learn more, contact us online and set up your free consultation today.