Many people who ride in rear seats don’t buckle up for two reasons: they find rear seat belts uncomfortable, and they think rear seats are safer than they actually are. According to Consumer Reports, those seated in rear seats may be more likely to die in a crash than those seated in the front seats of vehicles.
Why is this? For one, safety-testing practices and development of safety technology has focused on the vehicles’ front seats. More importantly, only 74% of those who occupy rear seats of private vehicles report using seat belts, compared to 91% of those who occupy front seats, according to a survey from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Consumer Reports conducted an analysis of new vehicles and found that only 36% of vehicles have rear seat pretensioners, 38% have rear seat load limiters, and less than 40% have rear seat side airbags.
Both the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plan to address rear seat safety. The IIHS will introduce a rear-seat front-crash test. Jessica Jermakian, IIHS vice president for vehicle research, told Consumer Reports that test results might be available by 2021. It may also start evaluating rear seat-belt reminder systems in 2022.
After five years of delays and lawsuits from safety groups, the NHTSA is now acting on an order from Congress to mandate rear seat-belt reminders in new vehicles.
The NHTSA is also conducting safety research into rear seats. NHTSA spokesperson Kathryn Henry told Consumer Reports that it expects to complete the research by the end of 2021.
Source: Consumer Reports