While proven safety measures for automobile seats have long been available, many manufacturers continue to use poorly designed or defective automobile seats. Countless injuries have occurred during rear impact collisions as a result of manufacturing defects and poorly designed seats. Defective and fragile parts – such as seat backs, seat tracks, and recliner mechanisms – contribute to automobile seat problems.
In spite of recent tests that prove deficiencies in seat back standards, there is presently no requirement for automobile seats to be evaluated during crash tests. Current safety and testing standards are not adequate enough to prevent serious injuries and fatalities during automobile crashes. In some cases, automobile seats are unable to appropriately restrain passengers during collisions causing them to become injured or killed from impacting the interior of the vehicle or from being ejected.
Typical Automobile Seat Failures
The number of people killed and injured due to defective seats during automobile accidents has remained steady over the past 20 years. When seat backs are poorly designed or manufactured using substandard materials, they are capable of collapsing rearward during a rear impact crash. This collapse is problematic and can lead to more serious injuries because the occupant is no longer securely restrained by the seat belt shoulder harness, thereby increasing the likelihood of being ejected from the vehicle. In the case of a driver seat rearward collapse, the driver is likely to lose control of the vehicle causing additional collisions and injuries. In both driver and front passenger seat collapses, rear seat passengers are likely to be injured as the seat back and occupant intrude into the rear compartment.
Current Safety Standards
Safety experts believe that current standards and testing of automobile seats are outdated and too tolerant to protect occupants from otherwise avoidable injuries and fatalities during a crash. Safety experts are concerned that there is no present requirement for crash testing automobile seats and no defined standards for their crash worthiness. Evaluation of automobile seats has shown that most seat backs are not capable of withstanding impact. Bucket seats and split bench seats are particularly vulnerable during collisions.
Defective Seat Solutions
According to one study, even at relatively low speeds, occupants can be ejected as a result of seat back collapse during a vehicle crash. Safety experts believe that if seat backs were stronger and less prone to defects from poor design and materials, the amount and severity of seat back collapses during vehicle crashes would be significantly reduced. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has indicated a desire for stronger testing and regulation of seat back design, they have yet to move forward with stricter regulations.