Report: Seatback failures, low standards put passengers at risk

As a result of seatback failures, motor vehicle occupants may be seriously injured if their automobiles are struck from behind.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, there were over 1.7 million rear-end accidents across the U.S. in 2012, the most recent year with available statistics. Despite regulations aimed at safeguarding vehicle occupants, such wrecks often result in serious injuries or death for people in Ohio, and elsewhere. This may occur, in some cases, because automobile systems are inadequate or fail. In fact, it was recently reported that seatback failures may occur when vehicles are struck from behind, and may lead to potentially fatal injuries.

Vehicle seat safety failures

When vehicles are involved in rear-end collisions, the front seats of numerous vehicle models may collapse, according to a CBS News report. This may cause the occupants of those seats to be thrown backward. As a result, they or the passengers seated behind them may suffer severe injuries, including spinal cord injuries or head trauma. Additionally, rear seat passengers may be struck by the seats themselves, which could also lead to injuries.

Inadequate safety standards

As is the case with most vehicle systems, there are standards in place to help ensure the safety of vehicle occupants. These standards are established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA. CBS News recently reported that the regulatory agency's strength standard for automobile seats is very low. Consequently, even seats that meet and exceed the standard may be dangerous.

In order to test the strength of the seating systems in vehicles that are sold in U.S., safety regulators place a metal brace across the seats. These braces are then attached to a wench that applies pressure by pulling backward on the seat. However, CBS News reports that the pressure is such that even a banquet chair may meet the federal safety standard.

Fixing the problem

Safety experts have recently pushed for the NHTSA to address this potentially deadly safety defect. Despite knowing about the safety standard inadequacies and the potential for seatback failures, the NHTSA has been reluctant to make updates. The regulatory agency argues that these types of incidents are rare, making it difficult to change the standards. According to one engineer who testified during a seatback failure lawsuit, it would only cost auto makers about one dollar to strengthen vehicle seats.

Seeking legal guidance

When people in Ohio are injured in motor vehicle accidents, they may suffer injuries that require extensive medical care. As a result, they may incur unexpected medical expenses and lose income while they off of work are recovering. Depending on the circumstances of their collisions, however, the at-fault driver or a negligent auto manufacturer may be held responsible. Therefore, those who have suffered injuries in a car crash may benefit from discussing their situation with an attorney. A legal representative may explain their rights, as well as their options for pursuing compensation.