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Study Finds Most Rear Seat Passengers Are No Safer In Car Crash

We put our children in the back seat of the car, in part, because we think they will be safer there in the event of a car accident. However, passengers of all ages are better off in the front seat of newer cars, according to a newly released study.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia collaborated on the study, which was released earlier this summer. The study concludes that there is “an elevated risk of death for rear row [seat] occupants, as compared with front row [seat] passengers” in late-model vehicles.

Children and adolescents usually sit in a car’s rear seats, the researchers note. Yet, data about car accidents and injuries does not indicate that a blanket approach of “kids in the back” is the safest way to travel.

The study looked at all crashes in the national database from 2007 to 2012 involving model year 2000 and newer passenger vehicles. Researchers computed the relative risk of death for restrained occupants in the rear versus front passenger seat by occupant age, impact direction and vehicle model year.

“After controlling for occupant age and gender, the relative risk of death for restrained rear row occupants was significantly higher than that of front seat occupants in model year 2007 and newer vehicles and significantly higher in rear and right-side impact crashes,” according to the study.

Key Findings on Rear Seat Safety (or Lack of Safety)

The study’s findings indicate that rear seat safety is not keeping pace with advances in improving front seat safety. These findings include:

  • For restrained children up to age 8 – The relative risk of death is lower in the rear compared with passengers in the right front seat.
  • For restrained children ages 9 to 12 – The relative risk of death is higher in the rear compared with passengers in the right front seat.
  • For ages 13 to 54 – There is no evidence of a difference in risk of death for occupants in the rear versus the front seat.
  • For ages 55 and older – There is some evidence for an increased relative risk of death in the rear versus right front seat even though researchers say then “could not exclude the possibility of no difference.”

Injured Passengers Have the Right to Seek Compensation

At Powers & Santola, LLP, we often discuss motor vehicle accidents in our blog in reference to the actions of the drivers of vehicles involved in a wreck. However, in a high percentage of car accidents, one or more passengers are present and injured along with the driver.

It is important for passengers to understand that they have a right to seek compensation for their losses – regardless of whether they are injured in a crash caused by the driver in another car or the driver of the car in which they were traveling.

Passengers deserve to be compensated for their losses when they are harmed by the negligence of another. They should not be reluctant to seek this compensation, even when the driver is a friend, co-worker or family member.

Money for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering in a car accident claim comes from insurance that exists for this exact purpose. The compensation does not come out of the at-fault driver’s pocket.

If you have been injured in a car accident as a passenger, the personal injury attorneys of Powers & Santola, LLP, can review your case and help you to understand your legal rights and options. Contact us today for a free discussion of your accident and the legal steps required to seek a fair outcome for you.

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