If you're often a back-seat passenger in a car, you may think you're in a safe place in the event of a frontal collision. You may assume you're less likely to make contact with the dashboard or windshield, and the seats in front of you act as a buffer. This assumption is very common.
Due to changes in vehicle design and the advent of new technology, this assumption is incorrect.
What makes the front seat safer than the back?
The front seat has, historically, been the most dangerous place to be during a crash, but in recent years, researchers and car manufacturers have placed a disproportionate amount of emphasis on front-seat safety.
Many of these advances come standard on all new cars. They include (but are not limited to):
- Advanced seatbelt designs
- Passive airbags (some on the side)
- Electronic stability control
- Forward collision warning
- Automatic emergency braking
While these features help to ensure more safety for front-seat occupants, this technology neglects back-seat passengers.
According to an NBC News report, a recent study concludes that front-seat occupants are more likely to survive collisions than back-seat occupants. The study, which was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, found that rear seatbelts lack so-called load limiters, which means they can't loosen up in the event of a crash.
In addition, researchers in the study scrutinized frontal collisions involving 117 rear-seat occupants between 6-92 years old who were killed or seriously injured. More than 50 percent of back seat passengers sustained injuries that were more serious than front-seat occupants.
For this reason, safety advocates urge that more life-saving improvements be made to back-seat design and functionality. By 2022, the IIHS hopes to conduct back-seat crash tests in order to allow consumers to compare safety technology in new models.
If you plan on purchasing a new Ford in the future, your car may have rear seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load limiters, according to Desi Ujkashevic, Ford’s global director for its Automotive Safety Office.
In the meantime, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges passengers ages 55 and older to stay in the front seat.
If you were injured in the back seat, it's likely not your fault
If you were a passenger at the time of a crash, the actions of your driver or the driver of another car could be at fault. If the driver of the car you were in caused the crash, you may still pursue economic damages for medical expenses and lost wages.
Crashes like this can be complicated, and in many cases, passengers fail to take legal action because they don't want to compromise their relationship with a friend or relative. The damages you collect would most likely not come out of the pocket of the driver, but rather, would be paid by his or her insurance company, however.
Let an experienced Alabama car accident attorney at Shuttlesworth Law Firm LLC help resolve this matter for you. We represent injured passengers throughout greater Birmingham and offer free case evaluations. Contact us today to get started.