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Studies reveal potential backseat dangers

For many motor vehicle consumers, bigger is better, particularly if they have kids or travel often with their cars. Other customers seek out smaller transports that provide better gas mileage and easier parking. However, with those savings come significant risks.

According to recent crash test data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), smaller is not any better, particularly when it comes to protecting passengers – specifically children – in rear seats.

Poor ratings reveal troubling trends

Out of five small cars undergoing testing, not one earned a good rating. Only the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla sedans were deemed acceptable. Poor ratings went to Kia Forte, Nissan Sentra, and Subaru Crosstrek. To earn a good rating, no sign of significant injury risks to the head, neck, chest, thigh, or abdomen must exist.

Following data revealing fatal injury risks are higher for belted occupants in the backseats, as opposed to front seats, IIHS updated their moderate overlap front test. Testing revealed the rear dummies “submarining” under the seat belt, resulting in the belt riding up to the abdomen, which increases the risk of severe internal injuries.

The issue is not that rear passengers face more risks. However, front-seat travelers enjoy the significant improvements that resulted in the current data, including better airbags and more advanced seat belts currently not available in back seats. One caveat is the back seat is safest for young children. Front seats can result in injuries from airbag deployment.

Keeping drivers and passengers safe should be a priority for automobile manufacturers. The slightest oversight or defect carries catastrophic consequences that could lead to serious and potentially fatal injuries.