The backseat of a vehicle has been known to be safer for quite some time, but the University of Buffalo decided to put it to the test. In a study of crash-related fatalities related to seat position, researchers discovered that not only is the backseat of a vehicle 59-86% safer than the front seat, but the middle seat safer still – 25% safer than the window seats in the back.
The reason for the extra safety can be explained in terms of so-called “crumple zones.” A crumple zone is an area of the car that is designed to crumple upon impact, absorbing the force of a collision and helping to maintain the integrity of the vehicle’s passenger compartment. Crumple zones on the sides of the vehicle mean that the window seats tend to take more damage than the middle seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that all children under 13 ride in the back.
If the middle seat in the back doesn’t have a full 3-point seat belt, however, the window seats in the back are a safer option. Lap belts, which were common in older vehicle models, are less effective in protecting passengers in the middle seat, so children in window seats with full seat belts are still safer. For children in car seats, the American Academy of Pediatrics found that car seats situated in the middle have a 43% lower risk of injury than other seats on the back.
So next time you or your kids get stuck with the middle seat, remember: it may just be the safest place in the car.