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IIHS calls for better rear-seat safety

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Virginia motorists are probably aware of the various safety features that protect front-seat car occupants in the event of a crash. One has not only airbags but also crash tensioners, which tighten seat belts upon impact, and force limiters, which can reduce force and prevent chest injuries by unspooling some of the seat belt’s webbing. In some newer vehicles, front seat belts even work in coordination with the airbags.

Unfortunately, these advances in front-seat safety technology have left rear-seat safety in the dust. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has developed a series of crash tests to show just how this neglect is affecting rear-seat passengers. In a study of 117 crashes where rear-seat passengers were injured or killed, the IIHS found that one-third suffered chest injuries. Nine of the injured passengers and 18 of those fatally injured incurred heat injuries.

Crash mitigation technology isn’t all that the back seats need. There is a push for seat belt warning lights as well as better seat-back strength. The standards for seat-back strength in the rear have not been updated in some 50 years.

Seat belt warning lights can be especially beneficial since rear-seat passengers are more likely to neglect these safety harnesses. This is largely due to the belief that rear seats are safer than front seats.

Even with the latest technology, all passengers are liable to suffer injuries in motor vehicle accidents. If the injuries are serious enough to support the filing of a third-party insurance claim, then victims may want to see a lawyer. Virginia follows the strict rule of pure contributory negligence, which bars plaintiffs from recovering damages if they contributed so much as 1% to their injuries. Assuming that the case holds up under this rule, the lawyer may proceed to settlement negotiations.