There’s nothing better than reclining your seat while on a long drive. You can sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery as you go by. However, did you know that the simple act of reclining your seat puts you at increased risk of serious injury and even death?
Not many people know that there is great risk associated with reclining a car seat. All the while, car manufacturers including Ford, Toyota, Chrysler and GM have known about these dangers for more than 50 years, while consumers have remained in the dark.
The Danger of a Reclined Car Seat
Modern car seats often have a three-point restraint (seat belt and shoulder harness) installed. When the car seat is reclined, the harness moves away from the passenger’s shoulder rendering this safety feature useless.
Most people assume that they are safe as long as they are belted in. However, seat belts have been known to fail when they are poorly designed or when they are not worn properly. In the case of a reclined seat, there will be more space between the passenger’s chest and the seat belt. This increases the risk of injury or death in the event of a car accident. The passenger’s body is likely to slam against the seat belt or slide underneath the seat belt.
Car Manufacturers’ Responsibilities
While many consumers are unaware of this problem, car manufacturers aren’t. They have known about this danger for more than 50 years. The dangers associated with seat reclining were made known at the 1964 Stapp Car Crash Conference. However, there are still no Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to govern this danger, mostly as a result of lobbying by car manufacturers. Car manufacturers have also refused to provide warnings or make adjustments to eliminate or reduce the risks.
There are various ways that car manufacturers can help to reduce the dangers associated with reclined seats.
- They can prevent the car seats from reclining beyond a set angle, especially when the vehicle is moving. This, however, is a controversial solution as it eliminates the consumer’s choice. There is also no single safe angle to suit different body types.
- They could issue warnings to occupants and allow passengers to decide for themselves.
- They could design the seat belt system such that it is built into the seat itself.
If you’ve been injured in an accident and were in a reclined seat at the time, you may be able to get compensation. You will, however, have to show that the injury was a result of a defect in the reclined car seat, or that the reclining of the seat worsened your injuries.