IIHS: Rear seat passenger safety study

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A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds that sitting in the back seat of a vehicle can potentially put passengers at higher risk in head-on collisions than front seat occupants.

According to the study, back seat passengers don’t have the benefit of more sophisticated restraint systems such as airbags and other safety technology.

Frontal crash tests show that when a collision starts, seat belts in the front tighten around the occupants, and at the same time front airbags deploy adding to the occupant’s protection.

Front seat belts also have force limiters to reduce the risk of chest injuries.

However, rear seat belts generally lack this technology.

In many crashes, back seat passengers were killed or seriously injured from chest and head injuries, suggesting the rear restraints didn’t perform as well.

Researchers say force limiters like the ones used in front seat belts could be one way to reduce injuries, as well as inflatable seat belts and the addition of airbags in the back seat.

The insurance institute for highway safety is currently working to develop a crash test that further evaluates rear seat protections.

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