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Researchers urge attention to rear seat safety

Overall, people in New York are safer than ever before when they get behind the wheel of a car. Safety technologies like airbags or automatically tightening seat belts save lives, allowing people to walk away from car crashes that would have taken their lives in past years. Still, many people are severely hurt and killed in car accidents, and even improved technologies do not provide equal benefits for everyone. For example, many experts note that most of these advanced safety options are only available in a car's front seat. Rear seat passengers have seen little improvement to their safety, even with the advances in recent decades.

In many cases, people in the back seat are inherently safer in certain types of crashes. However, rear-end or side-impact collisions can be just as or even more dangerous to people in the rear. More people are using the rear seats as well. While the back of a car is often used to transport cargo or pets, the growth of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft mean that more people are sitting in the back when they travel. Studies show that people using these services are also less likely to wear their seat belts than people in private cars.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety noted that even buckled-up rear passengers are at risk of serious injuries. Researchers examined 117 crashes in which back-seat occupants were severely injured or killed while wearing their seat belts. They found that chest and head injuries were particularly fatal, and they encouraged automakers to do more to bring advanced safety systems to the rear seat.

Many devastating car accidents are avoidable, caused primarily by dangerous or negligent driving. People who have been injured in a car crash may work with a personal injury attorney to seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

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