This Is the Safest Seat in Your Car

You'll think twice next time before calling shotgun.

This Is the Safest Seat in Your Car

You'll think twice next time before calling shotgun.

According to the National Safety Council, 2016 was the deadliest year on the road since 2007, with as many as 40,000 people dying in car crashes—a 6% rise from 2015. While plenty of states impose strict fines for texting or talking on the phone while driving, people still do it, which means we’re living at a time when it’s super dangerous to be on the road. Factor in the fact that everyone is a bit distracted these days and sleep deprived—along with winter’s icy conditions—and it seems like now is the perfect opportunity to review where is the safest seat in the car.

While it’s usually the most dreaded seat in the vehicle, researchers have repeatedly found that the middle seat in the back is the safest one in the car. In 2006, researchers at the University of Buffalo studied all auto crashes involving a fatality in the U.S. between 2000 and 2003 where someone occupied the rear middle-seat, and found that those in the back are 59% to 86% safer than passengers in the front seat and that, in the back seat, the person in the middle is 25% safer than the ones sitting next to them.

Dietrich Jehle, M.D., UB associate professor of emergency medicine and lead author of the study, explained that the reason the middle seat is so much safer is that people in this position have more elbow room in case of impact to either side of the car. “In addition, in rollover crashes there is potentially less rotational force exerted on the middle seat passenger than on those in the window seats,” he said.

Of course, in some cars, the middle seat doesn’t have a full seatbelt, in which case it should be avoided. The same study showed that those backseat passengers who wear a seat belt are, generally, 2.4 to 3.2 times more likely to survive a crash than those who do not.

The research holds up as well for kids as it does for adults. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) both recommend seating a child up to the age of 13 in the middle if there is a full seatbelt, as opposed to just a lap belt. If you’ve got a child small enough to be placed in a car seat, the best position is also in the middle, but facing the rear of the car, at least until the age of 2.

The more you know, the safer you and your loved ones are!

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