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  1. #1
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Suvsafety.info is being phased out as a website. This is the article on third row seating:

    Safety Comparison of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    The trend for families is to buy vehicles than can seat more than 5 passengers. Most of these vehicles have three rows of seating, but not all of them are equal in terms of safety. Many larger vehicles lack important crash test results and some have a relatively high risk of rollover. Not many vehicles with three rows of seating have side curtain airbags for all rows; even fewer deploy them when a rollover is detected. An equally important new safety feature is stability control, which is proving to help drivers avoid crashes in these larger vehicles that often have inferior handling compared to passenger cars. Don't assume the largest, heaviest vehicles are safest. According to IIHS death statistics, once a vehicle is over 4000 pounds, additional weight does not significantly reduce the risk of fatalities in a multi-vehicle crash. Most large sport utility vehicles do not get top ratings in the NHTSA and IIHS frontal crash tests and many others have no crash test results.

    Rear impacts can be dangerous to third row passengers. Fortunately, severe rear-end impacts are relatively uncommon. Only around 5% to 7% of fatalities occur in rear-enders. The main risk is to heavy adults who might cause the vehicle seat back to fail in a serious crash. This risk is even greater if the adults don't have head restraints and shoulder belts. If you will regularly carry adults in a third row, insist on features like head restraints and 3-point lap/shoulder seatbelts in ALL rear seating positions. Lap-only belts are not safe for adults or children in boosters, in any type of crash. On the other hand, kids in harnessed child seats or high back boosters are at much less risk in a third row. They are much lighter, and less likely to load the vehicle seat back mechanism to failure. The shell of their restraints should also provide some protection from intrusion as well as adequate head restraint to prevent whiplash injuries. Even safer, a child restraint with a 5-point harness can reduce the risk of ejection. For a child using an appropriate restraint, the center of the third row is usually a safer choice than an outside seat in the second row. Some vehicles lack shoulder belts in the rear center position, so a child using a booster could not be seated there. In these cases, if permitted by the vehicle owner's manual, a child restraint with a 5-point harness can usually be installed with just a lap belt, though a top-tether is always recommended for additional safety. Finally, vehicles with well over a foot of space between the 3rd row seat and rear hatch may have an advantage over those with just a few inches separating passengers from the rear of the vehicle.

    Please research carefully if safety is a main concern in your choice of a vehicle for your family. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for people aged 4 to 33 years, exceeding most other causes combined. Each year in the United States, more than 1.5 million children under age 16 are occupants in motor vehicle crashes, resulting in more than 1,700 fatalities and 240,000 non-fatal injuries. Please, protect your family with a safe vehicle, be sure to properly restrain all passengers and always drive unimpaired with your full attention on the road. These few easy choices significantly reduce the chance of death or serious injury on the roads.



    The requirements for safe vehicles with three rows of seating are very tough, but also very straightforward.

    1) Must be an IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK. This ensures GOOD ratings in all the IIHS results as well as electronic stability control. Some vehicles only offer stability control as an option, so consumers must be sure to include this option or a trim package with this option. Consider models that also tout a rollover safety package that integrates the stability control and airbag system when a rollover is detected.

    2) Must have 5-stars in all the NHTSA crash test ratings

    3) Must have at least 4-stars in the NHTSA rollover rating

    4) Must have side curtain airbags for ALL rows of seating, including the third row. Consider models that tout individual side impact sensors for all three rows of seating.

    5) Head restraints and 3-point seatbelts for all seating positions.

    Only a very few models will meet these criteria, so please shop carefully!

    Also:

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/c...-205/index.htm

    http://www.edmunds.com/ownership/saf...4/article.html

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  3. #2
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    For 2008, the models that meet the criteria in the original post are:

    Honda Odyssey
    Kia Sedona
    Hyndai Entourage
    Acura MDX
    Ford Taurus X
    Honda Pilot
    Hyundai Santa Fe
    Hyundai Veracruz
    Volvo XC90

    Overall, these models should all be among the safest vehicles on the road today. Since no rear crash testing is done to determine the actual safety of passengers, it is impossible to say which of these models would protect third row passengers best in a rear-ender. Please note that the IIHS rear crash protection rating is NOT an actual vehicle crash test. It is only a rating of the performance of how effective the vehicle seat and head restraint may be to reduce whiplash-type injuries. These ratings are done on a test sled at "typical" settings for recline and height and may not apply to all seats or trim levels in a vehicle. Therefore, the IIHS Rear crash protection ratings cannot be used to compare actual crashworthiness of vehicles struck from the rear.

  4. #3
    Carseat Crazy ProudMomof5's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    We have a '98 Expedition... and I doubt if it meets any of that criteria. I do know it does not have side air bags. The 3rd row seat is very low, with no headrests and the middle seat is only a lapbelt. We do use our 3rd row every day too, two of our daughters sit back there.
    I really wish we could get a newer safer vehicle.

  5. #4
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Quote Originally Posted by ProudMomof5 View Post
    We have a '98 Expedition... and I doubt if it meets any of that criteria. I do know it does not have side air bags. The 3rd row seat is very low, with no headrests and the middle seat is only a lapbelt. We do use our 3rd row every day too, two of our daughters sit back there.
    I really wish we could get a newer safer vehicle.

    If your children are appropriately restrained in a 5-point harness or high back booster that provides head restraint, they should be quite safe in typical crashes from the rear. It would primarly be teenagers and adults at the greatest risk in a seat like you describe.

    For most vehicles, side impacts are of a much greater concern to a passenger seated on the struck side. Side impacts tend to be more common, more severe and much more fatal to properly restrained passengers. Even side curtain airbags don't always extend low enough to help protect kids, so a child seat with side impact protection features could be a benefit, also.

  6. #5
    Senior Community Member canadianmom2three's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Great and very timely post, as we are currently loooking for a SUV to replace our van, and the third row is essential to us, so THANKS!
    I was pleased to see that both the Santa Fe and the Vera Cruz made the list, we LOVE the vera cruz, and all its other safety features, but of course, the santa fe is a more affordable option, so its good to know that it also is fairly safe. Thanks!!

  7. #6
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Note that the list applies only to 2008 models. Models from previous years may vary in features and crash test results. The Santa Fe wasn't always top rated. Kia/Hyundai have done a tremendous job on improving crash test results in recent years.

  8. #7
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    So...it is safer to have my boys in the 3rd row of my kia sedona verses the captain's chair? If I have adults/kids out of boosters in my van they should go in the captian's chairs in the second row? Is that right?


  9. #8
    CPS Technician capeKO71's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Doesn't the saturn outlook/gmc acadia also meet those requirements?

  10. #9
    Forum Ambassador TechnoGranola's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Quote Originally Posted by capeKO71 View Post
    Doesn't the saturn outlook/gmc acadia also meet those requirements?
    It seems that the IIHS hasn't tested the Outlook/Acadia/Enclave yet (at least I couldn't find it), so they wouldn't meet the criteria yet.

  11. #10
    Forum Ambassador TechnoGranola's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    One of the reasons we purchased our MDX was due to safety, glad we did.

  12. #11
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Quote Originally Posted by capeKO71 View Post
    Doesn't the saturn outlook/gmc acadia also meet those requirements?
    I would be happy to add this model or any others that meet these requirements once all the crash tests are completed. Please send me a PM if you know of one that should appear on this list!

  13. #12
    Carseat Crazy aisraeltax's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    where do you find whether your SUV meets these standards? that is what is so confusing.

  14. #13
    Forum Ambassador TechnoGranola's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Quote Originally Posted by aisraeltax View Post
    where do you find whether your SUV meets these standards? that is what is so confusing.
    Criteria #1:
    http://www.iihs.org/ratings/default.aspx

    Criteria #2 and #3:
    http://www.safercar.gov/

    Criteria #4 and #5 are found in your vehicle owner's manual and/or by visual inspection of the vehicle. Also, the NHTSA web site (http://www.safercar.gov/) will provide some or all of this info when you look up your vehicle on their web site.

    There is one other web site, http://www.informedforlife.org/ which takes the IIHS and NHTSA ratings combined with other factors and uses an algorithm to come up with a safety rating for your vehicle. The one thing you need to watch for on this site is if there aren't a complete set of ratings available for a vehicle, they will assume "average" for the result, which may not actually be the case. So, the site is best for vehicles with complete test results both from IIHS and NHTSA.

    The unfortunate thing here is, your Mercedes R-class has not been tested by either the IIHS or the NHTSA. It doesn't look like Euro NCAP has any results either.

  15. #14
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Thank you so much! I usually don't have adults or kids without seats in my van...if I do the adult sits int he passenger seat next to the driver.

    Good to know. thank you.

  16. #15
    Carseat Crazy aisraeltax's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Quote Originally Posted by technogranola View Post
    Criteria #1:
    http://www.iihs.org/ratings/default.aspx

    Criteria #2 and #3:
    http://www.safercar.gov/

    Criteria #4 and #5 are found in your vehicle owner's manual and/or by visual inspection of the vehicle. Also, the NHTSA web site (http://www.safercar.gov/) will provide some or all of this info when you look up your vehicle on their web site.

    There is one other web site, http://www.informedforlife.org/ which takes the IIHS and NHTSA ratings combined with other factors and uses an algorithm to come up with a safety rating for your vehicle. The one thing you need to watch for on this site is if there aren't a complete set of ratings available for a vehicle, they will assume "average" for the result, which may not actually be the case. So, the site is best for vehicles with complete test results both from IIHS and NHTSA.

    The unfortunate thing here is, your Mercedes R-class has not been tested by either the IIHS or the NHTSA. It doesn't look like Euro NCAP has any results either.
    ironic, huh? one of the safest vehicles, Mercedes, isn't chosen by NHTSA for testing so it can't be put on that list? that irks me...one of the MAJOR reasons we purchased the car we did was due to safety (not saying the others aren't safe..just that ours is safe also, yk).

    i haven't picked the car up yet so i haven't been able to thumb through the manual yet (i have a pdf and it's over 500 pgs. long!).

    i wonder how NHTSA determines which cars they are going to test. I guess Mercedes doesn't care enough but it's too bad b/c not a lot of ppl know about that option (at around the same price as some of the others listed).

    other than not being tested, it does have:

    4) Must have side curtain airbags for ALL rows of seating, including the third row. Consider models that tout individual side impact sensors for all three rows of seating.

    5) Head restraints and 3-point seatbelts for all seating positions.

    oh well.....
    Last edited by bensmom; 03-16-2008 at 09:01 PM. Reason: correct typos

  17. #16
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Quote Originally Posted by *Spoiledinmyhouseofblue* View Post
    So...it is safer to have my boys in the 3rd row of my kia sedona verses the captain's chair? If I have adults/kids out of boosters in my van they should go in the captian's chairs in the second row? Is that right?

    Any spot in the rear seating rows is quite safe if the occupants are properly restrained. The gains of one seating position to another are much smaller than those gains from correctly using a seatbelt or carseat, or being in back rather than in the front seat.

    If you are concerned with the adults possibly loading the third row seat back to failure or not having adequate head restraint, then by all means have the adults in the second row and kids in the third row.

    The center of the second row is probably the safest choice for a single passenger, but not significantly so. I would also say the center of the third row is probably a bit safer than outboard in the second row. Outboard seats, second or third row are next.

    That said, I have no qualms with my kids being outboard in the second and third row, because I know they are all properly restrained in a very safe vehicle.

  18. #17
    CPS Technician AdventureMom's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Quote Originally Posted by *Spoiledinmyhouseofblue* View Post
    So...it is safer to have my boys in the 3rd row of my kia sedona verses the captain's chair? If I have adults/kids out of boosters in my van they should go in the captian's chairs in the second row? Is that right?

    It's hard to say because it depends on what type of crash. Being farthest from the point of impact is usually the safest. The majority of severe crashes with injuries/fatalities are frontal crashes and in those cases being in the 3rd row would be safest. But in a rear crash or a side-impact, it's hard to say.

    If you regularly have adults in your vehicle, or kids out of boosters/restraints, then it seems that it may be more prudent to put the kids in seats in the rear b/c of the extra protection a seat affords them. As Darren was saying, it also depends on whether or not you have shoulder belts and head restraints in the 3rd row. If not, then they should definitely be in the captains chairs.

    In our minivan, our children ride in the captain's chairs full time and we put extra passengers in the rear b/c it is rare for us to actually use the rear for anyone else except other children. If we had to make a long trip with other adults, we'd probably put the kids in the 3rd row.

    DS|2002|FF in Britax Frontier 85 and Graco TurboBooster
    DD|2007|FF in two Britax Frontier 85's

  19. #18
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    I found this thread and it is answering some of my questions, but I still have more questions about the safety of the third row. I wanted to know who would be safest in the third row.

    Quote Originally Posted by CPSDarren View Post
    If your children are appropriately restrained in a 5-point harness or high back booster that provides head restraint, they should be quite safe in typical crashes from the rear. It would primarly be teenagers and adults at the greatest risk in a seat like you describe.
    This quote suggests that our children in their 5pt harnesses would be the safest. However, what happens with safety if you cannot use a top tether with the carseat? It sounds like head excursion is the concern. Is a rf 3 year old safe in the third row? Is there a concern with the glass being closer or is that not an issue since we can tether our carseats (Radian and Britax) rf as well?

    I'm a little confused and frustrated. The Santa Fe with the third row is a car that is high on our list. Even though the third seat seems like it would be the best fit for children (3 year old twins) because it is a tighter space with less leg room, the manufacturers didn't include latch or top tethers in that third row so you could install carseats there.

  20. #19
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan06twinmom View Post
    I found this thread and it is answering some of my questions, but I still have more questions about the safety of the third row. I wanted to know who would be safest in the third row.



    This quote suggests that our children in their 5pt harnesses would be the safest. However, what happens with safety if you cannot use a top tether with the carseat? It sounds like head excursion is the concern. Is a rf 3 year old safe in the third row? Is there a concern with the glass being closer or is that not an issue since we can tether our carseats (Radian and Britax) rf as well?

    I'm a little confused and frustrated. The Santa Fe with the third row is a car that is high on our list. Even though the third seat seems like it would be the best fit for children (3 year old twins) because it is a tighter space with less leg room, the manufacturers didn't include latch or top tethers in that third row so you could install carseats there.
    The main concern (as with almost any type of crash) is ejection. The secondary concern is the head striking the interior. A 5-point harness does a better job at preventing ejection. The possible risk in a 3rd row seat is mainly for a vehicle seat back that is loaded by heavy adult(s), resulting in a failure of the seat back mechanism in a severe (but rare) rear end crash. Those older passengers would then move toward the impact since the seat back is no longer restraining them. The situation is made worse if a shoulder belt and head restraint are missing.

    A child in a 5-point harness would not tend to be heavy enough to load the seat to failure as an adult would, and the harness would still tend to contain the head and prevent ejection if the vehicle seat back failed. A rear-facing seat would not put any additional load the vehicle seat back, either. The crash dynamics would be more similar to a front-facing seat in a frontal crash, though. Properly restrained, a rear-facing child should still be well protected unless the impact is so energetic that the occupant space is severely compromised. In that case, it could be unsurvivable for any age occupant.

  21. #20
    Forum Ambassador TechnoGranola's Avatar
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    Re: Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

    In this article, they state the following
    The rate of serious, accident-related injuries for children in minivans is only half that of those in passenger cars, with SUVs a close second.
    I am a little unclear as to what they mean by this sentence with regards to SUVs being a close second. SUVs are second compared to minivans? (i.e. close to half that of passenger cars), or SUVs are second to passenger cars? (i.e. that minivans are only that of passenger cars and close to half of SUV accidents)

    Anyone have an opinion on what they really mean here?

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