There isn't enough being done to protect older kids and teens in the rear seats of cars, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, which recently released a research report with recommendations on how to reduce the risk for young passengers who have outgrown car seats and booster seats.
While the rear seat is still the safest place for children younger than 13, car accidents are still the leading cause of death for children older than 4. A total of 952 children 15 or younger died in car crashes in 2010, according to Children's Hospital.
That number could be reduced with some changes to the rear seat belts, as well as the rear seats themselves, according to the hospital. It recommended adding seat belt features such as load limiters and pretensioners, which are commonly found on front seat belts. Children's Hospital also recommends lowering the seat belt anchors, shortening the depth of the seat cushions, and changing the contour of the seats to better accommodate older children and teens, who represent 70 percent of the occupants in rear seats.
The report, which will be provided to the National Highway Traffic Administration, which regulates safety in cars, also recommends developing crash tests for the NHTSA's existing crash-test protocol to provide information to consumers on the protection of rear-seat occupants in a crash, since current crash tests do not evaluate rear-seat passenger safety in frontal crashes.
Are your children in car seats? How comfortable are you about their safety?
Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.