Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Big Rig Accidents – What About Back Seat Passenger Injuries?
Big rig accidents happen every day, injuring people in a variety of ways. While many vehicles contain crash protection devices like shoulder harness seat belts and airbags that can reduce injuries in such events, those sitting in the back seat of a vehicle are more susceptible to serious injury. As a result, truck accident lawyers frequently find that heavy trucks may cause more serious injuries to those traveling in the back seat of vehicles.
Riding in The Back Seat Can Be Dangerous
Head-on collisions can be deadly; however, what many people may not realize is that riding in the back seat is often even more dangerous. Research done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that while crash safety standards exist to protect front seat passengers, there has been less emphasis on rear seat passengers.
According to crash studies, as many as 630 people were fatally injured in car crashes and big rig accidents while sitting in the back seat of a vehicle.1 This is especially alarming since it is generally considered that the safest place for children in car seats is in the back seat.
A Lack of Attention to Back Seat Safety
One of the issues concerning back seat injuries is the lack of attention to rear seat safety in general. While there has been great attention paid to vehicle safety for those sitting in front seats, even the NHTSA admits there is a significant lack of research and development to protect those riding in the back.
Most of today’s vehicles are crash test rated and designed to protect occupants in certain crash conditions. Unfortunately, the work that has gone into the development of safer and more protective vehicles has failed to include protection for those in the back of the vehicle. Even though fewer occupants are injured in the back seat, the injuries that are typically sustained could be reduced or prevented if automakers improved their safety standards to include the back seat.
Back Seat Injuries and Big Trucks
The issue of back seat safety is especially significant with big rig accidents. Back seat accidents can result in impact injuries that affect the head, neck, and back because most passenger vehicles lack sufficient back seat restraints. Truck accident lawyers find that back seat occupants in smaller vehicles face greater forces than front seat passengers when they collide with a heavy truck. This happens because shoulder harness safety belts as well as front and side airbags protect front seat passengers more effectively.
Whether a truck hits a car head on, from behind, or from the side, rear seat occupants who hit the front seat or somewhere else in the vehicle have insufficient protection against resulting whiplash injuries.
All big rig accidents are dangerous and can cause serious injuries to those traveling in smaller vehicles. Fortunately, automakers have been developing vehicles that protect people, even in such dangerous situations, as a means to increase passenger safety.
Truck accident lawyers agree with the NHTSA that there is a definite need to include back seat passenger injuries in the safety studies used to develop safer vehicles. Considering the number of ride-share programs currently in use as well as laws that require children to ride in the back of a vehicle, back seat crash safety has never been more important than it is today.