West Virginia residents may want to know that in new vehicles, rear seat safety is lagging behind front seat safety. This is according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a Virginia-based safety organization that represents the insurance company. The IIHS has conducted a series of crash tests to raise awareness of this problem.
The tests were based on 117 crashes, all of which involved either the death or the serious injury of a rear seat passenger aged 6 or older. A third of the victims incurred chest injuries while 9 injury victims and 18 fatally injured victims had suffered head injuries.
Automakers have focused so much on improving front seat safety that they have neglected the back seats, says the IIHS. In particular, front seats can come with crash tensioners, which cause the seat belt to tighten immediately after a collision, and force limiters, which use webbing in the seat belt to minimize the force of impact and prevent chest injuries. Some new front seat belt designs link them to the airbag.
Back seats do not come with these devices. There is also no mandate for side airbags though they are an optional add-on in more than a few newer vehicles. Seat-back strength is notoriously lacking with many seats collapsing in rear-end collisions.
Those who are injured in a traffic accident should know that they may be able to file a personal injury claim. In the back seat, they may be left with severe injuries requiring long-term medical care, but if they are successful in their claim, they might be reimbursed for this and more. It may be a good idea to hire a lawyer to gather all the necessary evidence and handle negotiations. The lawyer may litigate as a last resort.