Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today sent letters to 17 automakers requesting detailed information on front seatback collapse in rear-end crashes, including the strength of their seating systems and the number of known seatback collapse incidents. Seatback strength standards have not been substantially updated since their adoption in 1967, and there is longstanding concern that the standard for seat strength is not sufficient to protect passengers in the back seat during a rear-end collision from injury or even death. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a proposed rule in 1974 that would have made significant changes to seating system standards, but the rule was never finalized despite hundreds of deaths and several petitions requesting that NHTSA complete its work.
“Front seatback failures, which occur primarily during rear-end crashes, put back seat passengers –especially infants and children–at serious risks of injury or even death,” write the Senators in the letters to automakers. “There has been longstanding concern that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 207, which specifies the minimum number of requirements for seat strength, is not sufficient to mitigate injury or death of a rear seat occupant due to seatback collapse in a rear-end collision.”
Copies of the letters to the automakers can be found below.
Letters were sent to General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Toyota North America, Fiat Chrysler, American Honda Motor Co., Hyundai Motors North America, Nissan North America, Subaru Motors America, Mercedes Benz USA, Volkswagen Group of America, BMW North America, Mazda North America, Porsche, Jaguar Land Rover North America, Mitsubishi, Volvo, and Audi of America.