According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), occupants who ride in the back seat are less likely to use their seat belts than those who ride in the front. It is hard to say why this is, but it may be that passengers wrongly assume the back seat is the safest part of the vehicle. Also, older vehicles may not have shoulder belts in rear seats which are best for restraining the body in a car accident.
Unrestrained passengers have a higher risk of getting hurt in an accident. In the second row, unbuckled occupants are eight times more likely to be seriously injured or killed in a crash.
The IIHS studied crash data to determine the impact of collisions on backseat riders. Chest injuries were the most common, and the majority of injuries overall involved backseat passengers who were not wearing seat belts.
After chest injuries, the most frequent injuries affecting backseat passengers were head injuries, including brain bleeds and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs.) There were also high rates of bruised and/or fractured ribs, rib punctures to the hearts and/lungs, and trauma to the spine.
The best thing you and your passengers can do to prevent serious injuries is to wear the seat belt. Before the car is in motion, buckle up and wear the seat belt as intended. If you have three-point belts in the back seats, make sure to use the shoulder restraint as designed.
There are more complex guidelines and laws regarding child seat safety for younger passengers. Delaware law requires children up to the age of 8 or 65 pounds to ride in a federally-approved child safety seat. Those ages 8 to 15 years old can graduate from a safety seat but must wear a seat belt.
Children under the age of 12 or less than 65 inches tall must ride in the rear seat if the vehicle is equipped with airbags in the front passenger position. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride in the back seat until the age of 13. For specific details on proper position and approved seats for children of all ages, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.
The good news is the auto industry is making changes to protect backseat occupants from injury. Newer vehicles are equipped with three-point seat belts in every back seat. Manufacturers are working on technology to make backseat seat belts adjustable for a better, more secure fit.
Airbags are also being tested that would deploy from the back of the front row seats to protect the head and chest of those in the back seat. Until these features are available to consumers, the best thing every passenger can do is buckle up on each and every trip.
If you were injured in a crash, speak with our dedicated Wilmington car accident lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. for legal guidance. We will review your case, explore your options, and manage your claim from start to finish. Call us at 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, we serve the communities of Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.