While front seats have become safer, equipped with seat belt sensors that can tighten up when a crash is imminent or loosen to prevent seat belt injury, back seat technologies have been slower to catch up.
Prioritizing safety in the front seat just made sense because there are generally fewer back seat occupants and they are at a greater distance and experience less energy from a frontal crash. However, back seats are often occupied by children or elderly adults who are more susceptible to injuries.
The lack of load limiting seat belts that can loosen up when the occupant is pressing so hard to cause injury, for example, can more seriously injure someone 55 and up with fragile bones and children who are still developing. Belts can cause a number of injuries in an accident including chest, abdominal or spinal injuries in all age groups, but younger and older occupants are at increased risk even if they sit in the back of a car.
It may be that riding in the front seat offers better protection but researchers for the highway safety agency still agree that the back seat is safer for kids under the age of 13 and wearing a seat belt is always preferable to not wearing one to prevent movement in an accident. But, it would be made safer if seat belts that are available in the front could be moved to the back seats also.
While new seat belt technologies help to reduce injuries in a crash, they are limited to the front seat in today’s cars as are air bags. For now, rear seat belts without load limiters or pre-crash tensioners that tighten for a crash meet federal safety standards. However, with the insurance institute’s plans to add back seat crash tests to their repertoire by 2022, consumers may be able to discern which cars offer more back seat protection, prompting car makers to bring back seat safety technology to the fore.’s Quad