no74 2008
Wear Your Seat Belt in Rear Seat-It's Three Times Safer!

  A partial revision of the Road Traffic Act makes it mandatory for rear-seat passengers to wear a seat belt as of June 2008. It's been 23 years since the use of seat belts was made obligatory for drivers and
front-seat passengers. The seat belt restrains the occupants in the event of collision, preventing him or her from crashing into car's interior or against other occupants, and also from injuries caused by getting ejected from the car. Every car occupant should wear a seat belt, or, in the case of infants or children, buckled into a child safety seat or booster seat depending on body size. This is true no matter where the occupant is seated ? in the front seat or in the rear seat.
  This issue of ITARDA INFORMATION compares traffic accidents in which rear-seat passengers were or were not wearing seat belts, and strives to promote awareness of the need to wear seat belts when sitting in the rear seat as well as in the front seat of a car.
  This report consists of three sections. The first introduces actual traffic accidents (three single-car accidents and one involving car-to-car accident) to show how dangerous it can be when a rear seat passenger does not wear a seat belt. The second section verifies the enhancement of safety when rear seat belts are worn, using data on single-car accidents and car-to-car accidents. A summary and additional comments are provided in the final section.

Section 1 What Happens to Rear-Seat Passengers in Accidents
Case 1  Unbelted Rear-seat passenger is killed
Case 2  Rear-seat passenger, seat belt not used,
is thrown from the car and killed Unbelted Rear-seat passenger ejected from the car and killed
Case 3  Unbelted rear-seat passenger became rear seat bullet and injured front-seat passenger
Case 4  Front-seat occupant is killed,
whereas rear-seat passenger is uninjured

Section 2  Safety Enhancement Capability of Rear Seat Belts, Viewed from Traffic Accident Statistics


  By analyzing the data from traffic accident statistics, it was found that the use of rear seat belts effectively reduced the fatality rate to as low as one-third compared with the rate among non-users. Likewise, by using seat belts, the rate of fatally or seriously injured was reduced to nearly half. These figures show that wearing the rear seat belt significantly increases safety. A considerable portion of fatally injured rear seat passengers, who were not wearing a seat belt, were ejected from the vehicle (single-car accidents: 28%, car-to-car accidents: 18%).
  You've probably always assumed that the rear seat was safe, because wearing a seat belt was not mandatory until now. However, as seen from the case studies, using a seat belt could make the difference between "fatal or serious injury" and "minor or no injur" . Wearing a seat belt not only protects you but also protects the co-occupants of the car. Not wearing a seat belt could turn you into a deadly weapon against a family member or friend.
  It is appropriate to conclude that everyone in a car, including those in the rear seat, should use a seat belt, or a child safety seat for a youngster. No seat in the car is safe without restraint by a seat belt or a child seat. Analysis of data from traffic accident statistics proved that the risk of rear-seat passengers getting killed in a traffic accident is reduced to about one-third on average if a seat belt is used. This means that safety is enhanced three-fold with the use of seat belts. Princess Diana of the UK was killed in a traffic accident in 1997. She was seated in the rear and was not wearing a seat belt. She may have survived if only she had used a seat belt. So, always wear a seat belt whether you are the driver or a passenger, and no matter where you are sitting.

Note Equivalent barrier speed: the speed of the vehicle at the time of collision, shown in terms of an assumed speed when the car crashes into a solid wall, calculated from the degree of deformation of the vehicle.

Institute for Traffic Accident Research and Data Analysis (ITARDA)