With You For The Long Haul

Small SUVs may pose greater safety risk for backseat passengers

On Behalf of Lake Tindall, LLP | February 24, 2023 | Car Accidents

Just how safe are passengers traveling inside an SUV? A recent study disclosed that backseat passengers in some small SUVs may suffer more severe injuries than front-seat passengers.

SUVs have long been considered safe vehicles. However, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) sheds new light on this potential misnomer after performing crash tests on 15 small SUVs.

Backseat holds most vulnerable passengers

The study’s findings – released in December – are alarming primarily because the backseat of vehicles typically hold the most vulnerable occupants, including older adults and young children.

Through its study, the IIHS — a scientific and educational organization focused on reducing fatalities – disclosed that rear passengers of certain small SUVs had higher risks of receiving injuries to the abdomen, chest, neck and head.

The IIHS study disclosed that in the past 16 years, automakers have focused more on safety standards for SUV drivers and front seat passengers by providing airbags and advanced seat belts in the front. This makes the next statistic extra alarming: Seatbelt-wearing passengers in rear seats had a 46% greater chance of sustaining a fatal injury.

Only two of 15 received ‘good’ rating

Just two of the 15 small SUVs evaluated by the IIHS received a “good” rating for protecting backseat passengers. They were the Ford Escape and the Volvo XC40. Nine other tested vehicles were tagged with a “poor” rating for proving to be a higher risk for backseat passengers.

Types of injuries

Among the types of injuries faced by people hurt in motor vehicle crashes – including SUV accidents – are:

  • Fractured bones: Arm, lower and upper leg, collarbone, ribs, back, and pelvis.
  • Back injuries: Lower back injury, herniated and bulging discs, strains and fractures.
  • Lower neck or cervical fractures: Potentially may lead to paralysis.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Numbness, tingling and paralysis are possible from a damaged spinal cord.
  • Traumatic brain injury: Concussions, bleeding on the brain and months of rehabilitation.
  • Internal injuries: Chest and torso injuries may lead to damage to the heart, lungs, liver and spleen.

Parents with young children should be extra concerned about the IIHS’s study findings. They expect a safe journey every time they transport their children in their vehicles.

Changes within the industry needed

Automakers must take notice of these findings and seek ways to pursue the necessary changes. All drivers would welcome safer vehicles.