When you have to get around New York City, you may have to rely on rides from a carpool or from friends and family, or from a taxicab or Uber or Lyft. As a passenger, you may feel the back seat is the safest place. But a study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this year found that riding in the back seat could cause you more severe injuries.
While front seat safety has increased, the study found that car companies have not increased safety in the back seat. This has caused the back seat to be more dangerous, even in front-end collisions.
Improvements in (front seat) restraint systems
Car companies have added and improved front and side airbags for front seats. They have also improved seat belts.
Crash tensioners in front seat belts tighten to hold a person in place during an accident. This makes sure the driver and front-seat passenger do not fly forward and hit the steering wheel or dash. At the same time, force limiters let out just enough of the belt to prevent chest injuries.
Back seats not as safe
However, many cars do not have crash tensioners or force limiters in rear seat belts. Back seats also do not have front air bags. The IIHS found that not having these has caused more severe injuries and deaths for back-seat passengers.
Of 117 front-end crashes that the IIHS used for data, 37 caused a fatality in the back seat. Most of the fatalities occurred in crashes that should have been survivable. The study also found that many back-seat passengers had more severe injuries than drivers and front-seat passengers.
As a passenger, you don’t have much control over accidents. But riding in the back may increase the likelihood and severity of injuries. The next time you ride with someone, you may want to choose the front seat.