Should You Be a Back Seat Rider?
The back seat of a vehicle has historically been portrayed as the safest place for passengers, but safety risks may make it more dangerous than the front seat.
There have been many innovations in safety technology, primarily in seatbelt design for the front seats. However, back seats don’t often benefit from this technology, and many passengers neglect to wear their seatbelts while in the back seat.
Why the Back Seat Is Often More Dangerous
It is a common misconception that the back seat is safer as backseat passengers are farther from the impact of a front-end crash than those in the front seats. The back seat, however, doesn’t offer any additional protection from impact. Further, according to Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, backseat passengers put themselves and front-seat passengers and drivers at risk of injury if they neglect to fasten their seatbelts. In a car accident, backseat passengers without seatbelts could become projectiles and collide with people in the front seat, leading to serious injuries or death.
While wearing a seatbelt can make the back seat safer, most of the improvements to seatbelt safety over the years have been made to belts in the front seats. Back seats don’t often have load limiters in place, which would otherwise loosen seatbelts to prevent injury from the belts themselves. Studies have shown that backseat seatbelts can cause injuries to the spine, chest, and abdomen without the presence of these load limiters.
How Backseat Passengers Can Be Safer
Several technological advancements are under development to make back seats safer. Additionally, there are other ways passengers can practice backseat safety.
Currently, there are not crash-test ratings in place for backseat safety, but professionals are researching new safety systems to install in back seats, which are tested in crash tests. Backseat airbags are under development to help absorb the impact of accidents, and passengers in the future may be able to personalize safety with added adjustability.
Storing loose objects in a vehicle’s trunk or the pockets behind the front seats is an effective way to improve backseat safety. Fastening seatbelts is still the best way to minimize potential injuries in the back seat.