The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will put more focus on rear passenger safety going forward, with the safety watchdog believing many automakers are not treating rear occupant safety as seriously as they should.
According to The Detroit News, the IIHS is set to implement new crash tests that will demonstrate the institute’s concerns over rear seat occupant safety. The safety watchdog became concerned after analyzing data from 117 front-end crashes in which buckled rear-seat occupants over the age of 6 were killed or seriously injured. The data showed that a third of those passengers suffered chest injuries, while another nine had head injuries. Another 18 of those who were killed suffered head injuries as well.
According to the IIHS, it’s not that rear seats in new cars are less safe than before, but that front seat occupant safety has gotten so good that rear seat safety now looks much worse by comparison.
“Historically, it’s always been the case that the rear seat has been safer,” Jessica Jermakian, a senior research engineer for the IIHS, told The Detroit News in an interview. “But as we make improvements to front seats, rear seats got less safe. It’s not like something bad is happening there. It’s just that front seats have gotten much safer.”
With the new tests, the IIHS hopes to “provide a demonstration that illustrates the problems and have automakers come back to us with fixes,” Jermakian said.
Rear seat safety will become especially important going forward, with the popularity of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft set to rise and personal car ownership numbers expected to fall. That means more and more people could be riding in the back seats of vehicles instead of sitting in the driver’s seat. Additionally, rear seat passengers in ride sharing vehicles are more likely to not wear their seatbelt.
Rear seat safety also presents unique challenges for automakers. The front seats can be designed around average sized adults, but the rear seats are where children of all sizes will sit (including those still in car seats) and customers are also known to use the rear seats to store items.
Source: The Detroit News