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Rear seats riskier than front seats for injury, research shows

  • IIHS: Higher rear passenger injury risk in newer vehicles than front
  • 2023 Honda Accord sole “good” rating for preventing body, head injuries
  • DOT 2021: 1K+ car crash deaths, 50% of victims lacked seatbelts

(NewsNation) — The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes advancement in driver and front seat passenger seat safety over the years; however, rear seat research has been neglected.

Now, the institute is scrutinizing the safety of the rear seat passengers directly behind the driver.

Seven midsized vehicles were deliberately crashed to assess how a dummy in the rear seat would fare in a car wreck.

IIHS’s recent research reveals a higher risk of fatal injury for belted rear passengers in newer vehicles compared to those in front.

“That’s why we knew it was time to come up with a new test where we look at how well do we protect those individuals who were in the rear seat of the vehicle,” said IIHS President David Harkey.

The driver dummy represents an average adult man, while the rear dummy emulates a woman or 12-year-old child.

Among the seven tested vehicles, only one received a “good” overall rating.

The 2023 Honda Accord earned the rating due to its restraint system effectively securing the dummy upon impact, preventing serious body or head injuries. The 2023 Subaru Outback received an “acceptable” rating in the evaluation.

The remaining five 2023 models, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Kia K5 and Volkswagen Jetta, evaluated and listed received “marginal” or “poor” ratings due to a “submarining issue.”

“Which means that the dummy slides forward, beneath the lap belt, and that causes the lap belt to slide up over the pelvis and into the abdominal region which can cause severe internal injuries,” Harkey explained.

The research underscored the importance of seatbelts in saving lives. Buckling up remains one of the safest choices for both drivers and passengers.

In 2021, the Department of Transportation reported more than 1,000 fatalities in car crashes, with half of those victims not wearing seat belts.

The IIHS aims its research to prompt auto manufacturers to enhance great seat safety restraints. The intention behind their research is not to ridicule, but to evaluate safety standards and ultimately save lives.


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