Three House Democrats are proposing legislation to force the government to raise the safety standards that govern car front seatbacks to prevent potentially fatal collapses during accidents.
Many accidents have seen car seatbacks collapse during rear-end collisions and other crash types. When a seatback fails, it can result in serious injuries and fatalities for seat occupants and passengers sitting behind them. According to a CBS news report, Representatives Kathleen Rice of New York, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and Diana DeGette of Colorado have now introduced the Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act in the House to improve car accident safety.
Their bill would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to update its decades-old strength standard for vehicle seats to address failures during rear-end collisions within two years. Rice said in a statement that it is unacceptable that seatback integrity standards have not been improved despite so many tragedies.
Dangers of Weak Seatbacks
The representative pointed out that most of those injured or killed due to these tragedies are children. This is a companion bill to the one introduced by Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal that was advanced by a Senate committee this month. This push for new safety legislation comes from a series of stories that began airing in 2015 by CBS News. These reports revealed that, when struck from behind, car front seats may break, and their occupants could be propelled forcefully into rear seats where children usually sit.
CBS News identified over 100 people, mostly children, who were severely injured or killed in alleged seatback failures over the past 30 years. One of those killed was Taylor Warner who would have turned 12 last week. She was 16 months old and strapped into her car seat when her family’s minivan was rear-ended. The impact caused her father’s seat to break and collapse backward into Taylor. Her parents Andy and Liz Warner, have spent the last several years advocating for a new seat strength standard.
Voices Calling for Change
Our auto defect lawyers have represented victims injured by seatback defects or lost loved ones due to seatback defects. We secured $24.7 million for our client Jaklin Romine, who was paralyzed in a 2006 Pasadena crash in which her seat collapsed during a rear-end collision. She suffered catastrophic head and spinal injuries despite wearing her seatbelt because her seat collapsed backward, causing her body to submarine rearward under the seatbelt and shoulder restraint. Romine is now a powerful voice for victims and consumers as she joins the call for positive change.
We join Romine and all others in calling for stronger vehicle seatbacks. In this age of innovation and superior safety technology, it is unacceptable to have car seats that offer little to no protection to vehicle occupants. It’s time to change the laws and require automakers to make stronger seatbacks.