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IIHS Crash Data Proved Rear-Seat Protection Will Save Lives

January 09, 2023

According to, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published its moderate frontal overlap crash test and crash ratings for rear-seat occupant tests. As a result of those crashes, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is pushing for improved rear-seat passenger safety. 

This recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing involved a Hybrid III crash-test dummy which simulates a small adult or child sitting in a rear outside seat. The IIHS uses small and moderate-overlap tests in combination with side-impact tests to determine a vehicle's crashworthiness score.

The results of the first round of testing showed that fifteen small SUVs, showed an imbalance in protection between the rear- and front seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's new testing concentrates on the rear-seated dummy's potential for neck,  head, thigh, and chest injuries, the possibility of seat belts moving from proper belt placement, and head contact with the vehicle interior.

According to the IIHS, only the Volvo XC40 and the Ford Escape offered enough protection to earn a Good rating, which is the IIHS' highest score. Toyota's RAV4 earned an "Acceptable" rating. The Audi Q3, Subaru Forester, and Nissan Rogue all received a "Marginal" rating. The remaining nine small SUVs—the Jeep Compass, Chevrolet Equinox, Buick Encore, Honda CR-V, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, Jeep Compass, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, and Jeep Renegade all received the IIHS' lowest rating of "Poor." 

The IIHS's scoring examines the safety features offered that have been proven to provide benefits for front occupants. These include head restraint location, advanced seatbelt fit and features, and crash performance. In the IIHS's new testing, newer safety features that are not mandated improve a vehicle's rear-seat crash scores. For example, seat belt pretensioners that draw the seat belts in at the time of an accident help protect the occupant's body from sudden jerking. 

Using Hybrid III crash dummies has been a part of safety testing in Europe since 2015. As a result, automakers in Europe moved quickly to standardize seatbelt technology in rear seats. In contrast, manufacturers in the United States have been slower to include this seatbelt technology as standardized safety equipment. This change could save thousands of lives and prevent injury since statistics show that seatbelt use in the rear seat stays significantly low.  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that vehicle-related deaths and injuries have reached a 15-year high in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were nearly 24,000 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2020, and 46% of those harmed were unrestrained at the time of the accidents. Rear seatbelt reminders alone will reduce traumatic injuries in an accident.

Did you or a loved one suffer accident-related injuries? 

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Category: Auto Accidents

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.