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  1. #1
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003

    Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats 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!


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    April, 2001

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