Unfortunately, in our business we deal with tragic events. It’s hard to imagine a sadder situation than what recently happened to one of our State Troopers. Although pulled over on the side of the road in a Ford Explorer, his vehicle was rear-ended by another motorist and as a result, the Trooper was killed. A Ford Explorer is one of the largest non-commercial vehicles on the road, so the question goes begging: How could someone sitting in the driver’s seat of such a big SUV suffer a fatal injury from a rear-end impact? We have looked extensively into this precise fact pattern and have learned some unfortunate truths about the automotive industry as a whole.
It’s clear that front seats in nearly all cars found on the road are inadequately constructed and fail catastrophically in rear end accidents. More specifically, the seats break and thrust the occupant backwards toward the back seat. When the seat is thrust into this reclined position, the seatbelt is rendered ineffective, allowing the occupant to slide backwards, (or “ramp”) most often striking his or her head on the back seat. The result is often a fractured neck leading to either paralysis or death.
Research shows that this problems has existed for nearly 50 years. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has admitted that their standard is woefully inadequate but has refused to change it due to lobbying efforts from the automotive industry. A renowned expert that we’ve had the pleasure of working with has made it his life’s crusade to expose this problem in an effort to stop these senseless deaths and life changing events. Dr. Alan Cantor has actually constructed seats out of cardboard that have passed the strength test required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, literally.
Please also know that children in rear car-seats have been killed by the driver’s seat breaking and the driver’s body mass being thrust rearward. Dr. Cantor suggests that parents place child seats in the third row of any SUV that has one, or be placed behind the lighter of the two front seat occupants.
I haven’t had the opportunity to view the Explorer that the Trooper was seated in just prior to his death, but I intend to. I’m willing to bet that, predictably, the seat failed leading directly to his death. As a consumer, please be aware. And if you are wondering, the seat strength of any particular car is not listed anywhere in the car’s specs or in any consumer report because it’s not required to be. Based on our extensive research it would appear that only Mercedes, BMW, and Volvo have seats that are reinforced in a way that addresses this ongoing dilemma.