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Backseat passengers left behind by safety technology

Modern vehicles do a better job of protecting drivers and front-seat passengers than they do protecting people riding in the back seat, according to a leading safety institute. As a result, rear-seat passengers in Georgia and elsewhere are being placed at elevated risk of injury and death.

Researchers with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzed data from 117 crashes that resulted in the death or serious injury of backseat passengers over the age of 6. They found that automakers have done an excellent job of upgrading safety features for the front-seat vehicle occupants over the years. For example, air bags and crash-activated seat belt tensioners have significantly reduced the risk of injury for people riding in the front seat. However, they also found that carmakers have failed to provide similar safety features for backseat occupants, leaving them more vulnerable to injuries in crashes. Of the backseat victims included in their analysis, around one-third suffered chest injuries and 27 suffered head trauma.

In order to better protect backseat passengers, the IIHS recommends that automakers develop more sophisticated seat belt systems for rear occupants. Meanwhile, safety experts urge backseat passengers to use seat belts at all times. Studies show that only 75% of those riding in the back seat bother to buckle up, compared with 90% of front-seat passengers.

Backseat passengers who have been injured in car wrecks might have grounds to take legal action. For example, if another driver caused the crash, injured victims may file a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages against that individual. Meanwhile, if a victim's injuries were caused by a defective auto part, such as a faulty seat belt, he or she might be able to file a lawsuit against the automaker and parts manufacturer. Victims may learn more about their legal options by discussing their case with a personal injury attorney.

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