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Seatback failures put rear seat passengers at risk

Unfortunately, auto accidents are all too common in Tennessee, and elsewhere. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there were more than 197,000 motor vehicle collisions across the state in 2015 alone. Many such crashes result in serious injuries or death for those involved, despite regulations aimed at ensuring vehicle safety. One recent news report suggests that some of these injuries and deaths may be the result of seatback failures.

Parents have long been advised to put children in the rear seats of their vehicles. However, this could potentially place them in grave danger. According to a CBS News report, the front seats in some automobiles may collapse when they are involved in rear-end accidents. Consequently, children or older passengers seated in the rear seats may be struck and injured by the seats themselves, or by the person sitting in the collapsed seat who may be thrown backwards.

These types of seatback failures amount to a serious safety defect, and they may occur in automobiles whose seats meet or exceed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s strength standards. The cost to fix the issue would be minimal, with auto makers suggesting it would only be about $2, according to CBS News. However, not all car manufacturers have taken steps to address the problem in their vehicles.

Despite the number of cases and at least one study that showed the risk of seatback failures, the NHTSA reportedly has no plans to update its safety standards. For its part, the NHTSA claims these types of cases are rare. The regulatory agency argues that this makes updating the standards a challenge.

Although seatback failures are possible in some automobiles, safety experts suggest that the rear seats are still the safest place for children to ride in vehicles. It is best for them to be seated behind an unoccupied front seat or behind the lightest front seat occupant to help minimize their risk for suffering injuries as a result of this type of auto defect.

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