Keeping Passengers Safe in the Back Seat of the Car

August 11, 2016 | Crandall & Pera Law
Keeping Passengers Safe in the Back Seat of the Car

By now, parents should know just how critically important car seats, booster seats and seat belts are. In Ohio and in Kentucky, seatbelts have been mandatory since the mid-1980s, and both states have seen their laws regarding car and booster seats evolved through the years. But for all of our talk about child safety restraints, there is significantly less discussion about just how safe the back seat really is – for children or for adult passengers. As it turns out, the rear seat passengers may be at risk of more serious injuries than you might think.

In 2015, CBS News reported that “the car industry's focus has been on better protecting riders in the front because that's where most passengers, or roughly 88 percent, sit.” Improvements have been made in airbag technology (Takata and Autoliv aside) and crumple zones, and even the design of the cars, all of which contribute to a safer drive or ride. However, the rear seats of a car or truck are not necessarily the safest place for adult passengers (even ones who wear their seatbelts). A study conducted by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that adults were more likely to sustain chest injuries; that women passengers might be more at risk of a head or neck injury; and that older rear-seat passengers faced an increased risk of dying in an auto accident. According to the IIHS’s independent website, the exact number of rear seat fatalities in 2014 were:

  • 429 children (under the age of 13) in the second row, 35 in the third row

  • 342 children/adults (ages 13-19) in the second row, 9 in the third row

  • 871 adults (over the age of 20) in the second row, 76 in the third row

Almost all research turns up the same information: we must always wear our seatbelts, and we should consider purchasing cars with rear and side-impact airbags and technologies. For people who cannot run out and purchase a new car, however, here are a three things to remember when you get in the car:

  1. The safest rear seat is the one in the middle, so put your children there.

  2. Passengers over the age of 55 are at a greater risk of serious injury in the back seat, so let older passengers ride up front.

  3. Use a three-point harness as opposed to just a lap belt whenever one is available.

If you or your loved one was seriously injured in an auto accident in Ohio or Kentucky, Crandall & Pera Law is ready to help. Our skilled team of auto accident attorneys fights for justice for personal injury victims, so that you can have a brighter future. To learn more about what we can do, please call our Kentucky team at 877.651.7764, our Ohio team at 877.686.8879, or use our contact form.