While it is true that the backseat is the safest place for minors, children, and infants, some seats are considerably safer than others. In particular, any seat behind an occupied front seat can be incredibly dangerous for young children, says the Center for Auto Safety (CAS). During a rear-end accident, a poorly-constructed front seat can collapse under the weight of the occupant, slamming both them and the seat itself into anyone seated directly behind. This can cause significant injury to adults, but may be fatal for children.
CAS is urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to update its policies regarding front seat design. Currently, there are no federal statutes that require a certain features be met when designing front seats and seatbacks. Some recent studies have found that nearly all car makes and models with reclining front seats can be susceptible to total collapse.
Despite the problem being first researched in the early 90s, not many people are aware of the problem. Uninformed families may put their children behind the driver or the passenger, thinking that they will protect them from impact, or simply because it is convenient. The reality is that they may be endangering their children, as an impact equivalent to 30 miles per hour or more can trigger a front seat collapse.
The NHTSA is currently in a state of legal limbo over what to do about seatback failures. It is believed that 30 young children in America die each year in rear-end collisions, but an unknown number of that amount is caused directly by collapsing front seatbacks. The NHTSA often will not receive funding to research a problem or defect until it is decided to be “prevalent” or “widespread” by its parent agency, the Department of Transportation (DOT).
For more information regarding the dangers of collapsing front seatbacks, Consumer Affairs has recently published an article here. If your loved one has been injured in a car accident and a collapsing seat, you may be able to sue the automaker for defective design in an auto product liability case. Call (585) 270-8882 to connect with King Law and our Rochester auto accident attorney today.