Agency notes the rise of ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber as one of the reasons to focus on rear seat safety.
The rise of ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber has pushed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to begin using rear crash test dummies as part of its 5-star safety ratings program in 2019.
While the safety rating program dates back decades, it has only been used to measure the safety of front seat occupants. As a result, the safety of rear seat passengers has essentially taken a back seat. This is particularly troubling as children and infants typically ride in rear seats and so do many people who use ride-sharing services.
The focus on front seat passengers has also been blamed for the death of rear seat passengers. Bloomberg points out a tragic case of two parents who were traveling with their 16-month daughter when they were rear-ended by a minivan at 55 miles per hour. Since the front seats were reportedly designed to partially collapse to prevent "whiplash-like injuries" to their occupants, one of the seats accidentally hit the child on her head and killed her.
Safety advocates hope the new focus on rear seat safety will push automakers to add more rear airbags and rear seatbelt pre-tensioners which tighten the belt when a crash is imminent.