Thanks to ongoing safety improvements, new vehicles protect drivers and front-seat passengers better than ever before. However, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, safety improvements for rear-seat passengers are falling behind. This could endanger the lives of backseat riders involved in a car wreck in West Virginia and across the U.S.
IIHS researchers analyzed data from 117 front-end crashes that killed or seriously injured backseat passengers who were ages 6 and above. They found that one-third of the victims suffered chest injuries. They also discovered that 18 of the deceased victims and nine of the injured victims experienced head injuries. Because of its findings, the organization is designing a crash test that will help identify safety issues for rear-seat passengers.
One major problem is that many backseat passengers fail to wear their seat belts. In fact, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that just 75% of backseat passengers use seat belts. In comparison, 90% of drivers and front-seat passengers buckle up. Studies have also found that people riding in Uber and Lyft vehicles are less likely to wear seat belts than those riding in private vehicles. Another problem is that automakers have made a concerted effort to improve safety for front-seat occupants while doing little to improve safety conditions in the back. For example, crash tensioners, which cause seat belts to tighten around vehicle occupants during an accident, are commonly available for front seats. However, they are not as common in rear seats. The same is true for force limiters, which are designed to prevent seat belt-related chest injuries.
A backseat passenger injured in a car crash could face a variety of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages and property loss. However, an attorney could help a victim obtain compensation for these damages.