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Car AccidentIf you are in a car accident, does your choice in where you sit in a car really make a difference? Are you safer sitting in the front seat, or the back seat? The answer will depend on where the impact is (head-on collision, rear-end collision, side-impact, rollover, etc.), as well as the safety features available in the vehicle. In this blog post, we will explore this question and discuss things that you can do to stay safe in a car. 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), if you ride in the backseat of a car and do not wear a seatbelt, you are eight times more likely to be injured or killed in a collision than if you are wearing a seat belt. Even if you are just riding a couple of blocks, buckle up. 

Where is the “death seat” in a car?

Occasionally, we hear about accidents where one person died, and the other occupants were either not injured at all or suffered minor injuries. This may lead to the assumption that certain locations of a vehicle are safer than others. The important thing to remember is there is no “death seat” – the most dangerous seat in a car crash really depends on where the impact is. It’s possible to look at 4 different accidents and the the “safest” seat in each one is a different location: 

  • If a car is making a left hand turn in front of oncoming traffic, the front passenger may be most vulnerable to catastrophic injury or death if they are in closest proximity to the collision. In this scenario, the safest seat may be the seat behind the driver. 
  • If a car is struck rear-ended (struck from behind), the safest seat may be the front passenger seat. 
  • If a vehicle is struck head-on, the safest seat may be the middle seat in the back seat. 

Drivers and passengers should know that any seat with a seat belt is always safer than a seat without it. This is important to keep in mind, especially when riding in the back seat. Ride-share services like Uber and Lyft are often associated with not wearing seat belts. In fact, California law does not require occupants of “vehicles for hire” to wear seat belts. 

Is The Middle Seat More Dangerous?

The middle seat in the backseat of a car provides a space barrier in the event of a side-impact collision (about 25% of car accidents). However, passengers are really only protected if they are using a lap and shoulder belt. 

Safest Seat In A Car Accident

Many new vehicles have seat belts that automatically tighten when crash detection sensors are activated, and these are only installed in the front seat. Adults over 55 should ride in the front seat of a vehicle if these seat belts are available, as they provide an added protection. 

Why is the seat behind the driver the best place for a car seat?

For babies and children newborn to 3 years old, the center rear seat is the safest seat, approximately 43% safer than sitting behind the driver or behind the front passenger seat. This is not the most common seat, however. An estimated 41% of parents place their child in the backseat on the passenger side. This may be due to ease of access and ease of monitoring the child.

Which Side Of Car Gets Hit The Most?

Rear-end accidents are the most common type of accident, but they are not the most common type of fatal accident. The following statistics are from 2019 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. They are the number and percentage of fatal accidents, nationwide, based on the point of initial impact: 

  • Frontal impact –  6,995 accidents (56%)
  • Side impact 3,397 accidents  (27%) 
  • Rear impact – 786 accidents (6%)
  • Other (mostly rollover) – 1,242 accidents  (10%) 

You are much more likely to be in a rear-end accident than a head-on collision. However, if you are in an accident, you are much more likely to die in a head-on collision than a rear-end accident. Reduce your risk of being involved in a rear-end accident by not driving too closely and not allowing yourself to  be distracted by your cell phone. Resist the urge to “brake check” tailgating drivers. 

Best Sitting Posture During a Car Accident

The safest position in a vehicle is to sit upright, with feet on the floor, like you would in a chair, with a seat belt fastened. Airbags function with the assumption that passengers are sitting upright. If you sit cross-legged, put your feet on the dashboard, or stick your feet out the window, the airbags will not help you and could hurt you. Because you may have no time to change positions before impact, you should always be seated int a normal position with your feet on the floor. 

Speak with a Orange County Car Accident Attorney Today 

If you’ve been involved in a vehicle accident, contact the  Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates to discuss your case. We are available seven days a week to take your call. Our consultation is always free, and we have offices in Irvine, Anaheim, Los Angeles, El Segundo, Riverside and San Diego.