If you want to provide young children the most protection in a car ride, you should seat them behind an unoccupied front seat, says the Center for Auto Safety (CAS). Following its own internal studies and reviews from other safety organizations, the CAS determined that the prevalent risk of collapsing seatbacks puts virtually all children in serious danger in rear-end collisions. By placing them behind unoccupied front seats, the hazard can be all but completely diverted.
According to its findings, the CAS suggests 900 children have lost their lives in rear-impact auto collisions since the 1990s. Some of those car accidents were at speeds as low as 30 miles per hour. When a car with a defective seatback, which is nearly all makes and models, is struck in a rear-end collision, the weight of an adult in the seat can cause the seatback to snap, throwing the passenger and their chair into anyone that is seated directly behind them. Children sitting there, in a child safety seat or not, can suffer serious injuries.
NHTSA Says Its Hands are Tied
The Center for Auto Safety has reached out to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and asked them to update their safety regulations to say that behind an unoccupied front seat is the best spot for children. The NHTSA, however, cannot enforce any new regulations and has difficulty even changing the language in its guidelines if there isn’t ample evidence of a problem.
Despite the clear and present danger of collapsing seatbacks, the number of reported injuries and fatalities directly linked to them is low. The percentage of rear-end accidents that actually cause a collapsing seatback is estimated to be in the low, single digits; the number of children killed in such a crash is even smaller. The NHTSA says it will not get funding to look into a problem until it affects a greater number of people, or occurs more frequently.
Until the NHTSA make an official investigation or call-to-action, the CAS is urging parents to heed their warning and spread the word themselves. Consumer Affairs has a full article about collapsing seatback dangers here, for those interested. You can also contact Hutton & Hutton Law Firm, LLC if you need a Wichita car accident attorney for your own injury case. We’ve been helping injured clients throughout Kansas since 1979 and have recovered $400+ million in verdicts and settlements. Call (316) 688-1166 to learn more.