Unbelted rear seat passengers can kill drivers in a crash. Seatbelts protect more than just the belted ones.
Testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that a driver who has an unbelted passenger sitting behind him or her is twice as likely to die in an accident, even with their own seatbelt on.
The frontal crash test was conducted at 35 mph, and video shows the rear passenger slamming into the back of the driver’s seat with enough force to crush the driver into the steering wheel as the airbag deflates.<
The organization said the results are particularly concerning given the results of a companion survey that discovered passengers are less likely to buckle up in the back seat of a hire car, such as a taxi or Uber or Lyft, than they are in a privately-operated vehicle.
Just over half of the survey’s respondents said they always use their seatbelts in the back seat of a hailed vehicle, while approximately three-quarters of them do in personal cars. This compares to 91 percent seatbelt use reported by front-seat passengers, and in part reflects an outdated assumption that the rear seat is safer than the front, regardless of seatbelt use.