Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia recently conducted a study on front seat safety in crashes involving serious injuries or deaths of passengers aged six to 92 years old. The researchers found that improvements in design and technology for front seat passengers have tremendously improved the odds for surviving a car crash.
For the past decade, car manufacturers have put emphasis on improving the safety of front seat passengers, with a focus on seatbelt design. Their efforts have proven pivotal in saving lives in a car accident. New technology has improved the safety of front seat passengers so much that researchers are now advising car manufacturers to apply the same innovations to rear seats.
Manufacturers now include automated seatbelt pre-tensioners in new cars as standard equipment. These seatbelts automatically tighten when a car accident is predicted by the car’s automated safety systems. This protects victims of front end and side impact collisions from being thrown into the dashboard, windshield, and side windows. While air bags also work to prevent these injuries, the seatbelt tensioners provide even more protection.
Some recently manufactured cars do have the tension systems installed on their rear seatbelts, but they do not include the newest innovation, which is called a load limiter. This added feature allows the seatbelt to automatically loosen when the occupant is pressing too hard on the belt. In a car crash, a victim can be thrust into a position where the seatbelt is causing so much pressure on the chest and abdominal area that serious and sometimes critical injuries can occur.
Children and the elderly are extremely vulnerable to this type of injury, so researchers are voicing concern for back seat safety. While the back seat is no more dangerous than it was a decade ago, seatbelt improvements for front seat passengers have become so good that the need for implementation in the rear of the car is imminent.
Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety realize the need for improvement in rear seat safety and are hopeful that a new rear seat crash test will be available by 2022. While the Institute has no regulatory authority, car manufacturers may be motivated to include rear seat safety systems as the public becomes more aware of front seatbelt improvements.
Car manufacturers with standard rear seatbelts are within federal regulations for safety standards, but innovations such as the pre-tensioners and the load limiter technology may change these standards in the future. More testing must be done to confirm these innovations improve the safety for children in the rear seat of a car, but public opinion may motivate car manufacturers to implement the change before federal mandates require them.
If you have been injured in a car accident, call the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP at 800-222-USWA (8792), or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices serve clients in Philadelphia, Reading, Bethlehem, Allentown, Harrisburg, and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.