How many times have a group of siblings rushed one another, yelling out the phrase, “Shotgun!?” This is done to avoid having to sit in the dreaded middle seat of the back seat. That horrible hump. Our parents may have thought that the back seat was safer, and when it comes to infants and toddlers in car and booster seats, this is most definitely the case. However, when it comes to actual safety statistics, the back seat might not be the safest anymore, particularly for older children and adults. The New York Times explains why.
With both front driver and passenger-side airbags, combined with new innovations in seat belt safety, the front seat is becoming one of the safest places in a vehicle. The primary reasoning behind this change is that the seatbelt technology has been slow to move to the back seat.
These seatbelts tighten up when sensors located throughout a vehicle determine that a crash is imminent. They can also loosen up if the passenger is pressing hard enough against the seatbelt to cause injury.
Researchers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that if the vehicles do not have this technology in the back seats, seniors 55 and older should sit in the seats with the most up-to-date seatbelt technology.
Researchers are campaigning for this technology to become available in all seatbelts throughout the vehicle, especially since older adults are becoming back seat passengers. There has also been a rise in the number of back seat passengers with the advent of services like Uber and Lyft taking hold.
By 2022, the Insurance Institute hopes to have a crash test designed to show which vehicle models best protect back seat passengers.