The NHTSA has long lagged behind the IIHS in terms of innovative new ways to enhance the safety of vehicles in an accident. While the IIHS has consistently strived to expose the weakest parts of cars during a collision, like the frustrating small-overlap collision, and educate manufacturers on how to fix them, the NHTSA hasn’t made many impactful changes since launching its five-star system in 1978. Today, however, Bloomberg has learned that the NHTSA will shake up its testing processes by including rear-seat safety for the first time.
For years, front-seat riders have gotten all of the attention with the introduction of dual airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, and more. Sadly, those in the rear seats haven’t seen many advancements to protect them. In fact, many of the advancements designed to protect front-seat occupants may actually contribute to additional rear-seat injuries and deaths, like the rear crumple zone that can actually force the rear seat forward in a rear-end collision and collapsing front seats that can hit the person seated behind it.
Some of the advancements being talked about to help enhance rear-seat safety include seatbelt pretentioners, inflatable seatbelts, seatbelt alarms for the rear seats, stiffer front seats, and rear-seat frontal airbags. There are also the structural issues that need to be taken into consideration once the NHTSA releases this new wrinkle in its testing process in 2019.
We’ll continue monitoring the release of this new safety test and bring you more information about it as it becomes available.