Safety of Vehicles with 3rd Row Seats

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
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/...vs-the-safety-of-thirdrow-seats-205/index.htm

http://www.edmunds.com/ownership/safety/articles/109744/article.html
 
ADS

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
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.
 

ProudMomof5

New member
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. :(
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
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.
 

canadianmom2three

New member
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!!
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
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.
 
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?

:confused:
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
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?

:confused:
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.
 

AdventureMom

Senior Community Member
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?

:confused:
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. :twocents:
 

TechnoGranola

Forum Ambassador
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?
 

TechnoGranola

Forum Ambassador
After reading this Edmunds article, I think I have the answer. It seems to be my 2nd option.

While they represent opposite ends of the spectrum in size, small cars and sport-utility vehicles pose the highest risk of death in a collision. In a study of 2004 accident data, the NHTSA found that the highest incidence of fatality was in compact cars, followed by compact pickups, then midsize SUVs.
After reading those 2 articles, it kind of makes me worried about my 3rd row and worried about owning a mid-size SUV in general! They really have to work on making mini vans more palatable to the eye, if they are safer.
 

tinytoy

New member
Wonder how my 2005 Ford Explorer rates. We rarely ever use the 3rd row seat. I know we have side airbags in the front and second row but not sure about the third. Ashley sits behind the passenger seat in her SnugRide now, soon to be in her Britax Boulevard once we get it installed this weeked.

Also wondering about my Saab and wonder if it's considered compact or full size. It seems kinda in the middle to me. Is a 4-door but is a "sport sedan" with a slightly smaller backseat than most full size sedans. It's the 9-3. hm
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
In this article, they state the following

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?
No, their statement is a bit vague.

Historically, SUVs have had a big disadvantage in rollover injuries and crashes compared to cars and minivans. This disadvantage is greatly reduced with most of today's car-based SUVs that are equipped with stability control.

Many of today's hybrid crossover SUVs that are based on car platforms are quite safe. That is part of the reason our website www.suvsafety.info is being phased out; it is no longer very relevant compared to when it was introduced about 5 years ago. Back then, safe crossovers were just appearing on the market. Rollover prone truck-based models with dreadful handling, mediocre crash test results and few advanced safety features still dominated the SUV market.

Fortunately, most of those death mobiles are no longer being made;-) Even the truck based models that may not be as crashworthy are usually now equipped with stability control and side curtain airbags with rollover protection. That offsets their inferior handling and high centers of gravity to some extent.

In terms of safety, I'd be happy with many of today's crossover SUVs as a daily driver. I just wish the fuel economy was better.
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
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!
 

TechnoGranola

Forum Ambassador
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. :(
 

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