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IIHS: automakers are neglecting backseat passenger safety

Though modern vehicles are safer than ever, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety believes that there is one area that could do with improvement: rear-seat safety. Nevada residents should know that the increase in ride-hailing services complicates matters. Studies show that more people neglect their seat belts when riding in hired vehicles than they do in their private vehicles.

The IIHS analyzed 117 crashes where a passenger in the back seat died or was seriously injured. A third of these victims suffered chest injuries while head injuries were reported for nine of the injured victims and 18 of the fatalities. Based on the same crash data, the organization has developed new crash tests, hoping to raise awareness of the situation.

The IIHS says that automakers are too intent on improving seat belts and airbags to the detriment of backseat safety. Crash tensioners and force limiters are just two of the more recent advances in car safety. However, these are for front seats. One of the challenges of rear-seat safety is that occupants of the rear seats can be anyone or anything -- adults, children and even pets or cargo.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that only three-quarters of backseat passengers buckle up, compared to 90% of passengers in the front. Therefore, the problem goes beyond the ride-sharing industry.

A rear-seat passenger who is injured in a car accident may be eligible for compensation. For example, if a friend was driving and acted negligently, the backseat victim could file against the driver's auto insurance company. If another motorist was to blame, that driver's insurance company would be subject to a claim. Whatever the situation, a victim may want to hire a lawyer for their case.

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