We often hear that the back seat of a vehicle is safer than the front if there is an accident. But is that always the case? Research suggests the answer is “no.â€

Research shows that rear-seat occupants who are not properly belted in are eight times more likely to be injured in an accident than occupants properly using a seat belt. What’s worse is they are twice as likely to be killed in an accident.

Unfortunately, many people who ride in the back seat choose not to buckle up. According to Consumer Reports, only 74% of rear-seat passengers buckle up. That is compared to 91% of front-seat passengers.

Why do back seat passengers choose not to buckle up?

  1. They perceive the back seat as being safer and feel the belt is unnecessary.
  2. They find back seat belts uncomfortable, so they choose comfort over safety.

Can Back Seats be Safer?

Riding in the back seat has long been touted as safer because there is more distance between external forces and the back seat. However, with new safety technology, the front seat is safer than ever. The front seat now has airbags, better safety belts, load limiters, pretensioners, and other features. Vehicles made in 2007 or later have features that may actually make sitting in the back slightly riskier.

With all these front seat advancements, many wonder if back seats could be made safer as well. Only a fraction of vehicles have the same back-seat safety belt features that front seats have. For example, only 36% of vehicles have pretensioners in the back-seat belts. Only 38% have load limiters. Less than 40% of vehicles have side airbags that protect the torso and pelvic area of rear-seat passengers.

To address these concerns and disparities, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has already proposed rear-seat front-crash tests. The IIHS is also evaluating reminder systems for rear seat belts to make sure that back seat passengers remember to buckle up.

So, the answer is “yes†back seats can be safer. But the auto industry must focus attention on improving safety features in the back seat.

If you have been injured in a car accident, whether you were the driver or a passenger, give us a call to schedule a free consultation today.