The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) today announced it is working on a new crash test to better evaluate how vehicles protect rear-seat occupants in frontal collisions.
According to an IIHS study that looked at 117 crashes in which rear-seat occupants were seriously injured or killed, chest and head injuries were most common. Rear-seat occupants also suffered more serious injuries than their front-seat counterparts. The IIHS's latest study suggests that the safety of rear-seat occupants has taken a back seat to recent advances in crash protection for those seated up front.
Seatbelt pretensioners, front airbags and advances in structure design work well to protect front-seat occupants from the worst effects of a crash, according to the insurance/safety organization. But the lack of front-facing airbags and seat belt pretensioners makes it more likely a rear-seat occupant will collide with a vehicle's hard interior surfaces during a violent frontal crash, the study concluded.
The IIHS says it doesn't want to prescribe a rear-seat safety solution to automakers. Instead, it feels that developing a new crash test to evaluate rear-seat safety will prompt manufacturers to come up with effective technologies, like the inflatable seatbelts that Ford and Mercedes-Benz offer. The IIHS suggests that seat belt pretensioners and/or frontal airbags that deploy from the roof or front seat could provide further protection.