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NHTSA to use test dummies in back seats, too

With new mobility options like Uber’s ride-sharing service surging in popularity, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to use crash-test dummies in back seats of new models as part of its 5-Star Safety Ratings Program beginning in 2019, Automotive News reports.

These dummies were previously used as drivers and front-seat passengers only.

“People assume a 5-star rating extends to all seating locations, but it doesn’t,” said Kristy Arbogast, engineering director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The back seat hasn’t kept up.”

While automakers believe the single best device to protect rear-seat occupants is the safety belt, many advocates say they should improve those seat belts so they work more like the ones in front that tighten during abrupt speed changes. Additional airbags could also be fitted.

Crash tests with dummies in the back seats will help the NHTSA assess the nature and severity of injuries to rear passengers, and allow the industry to develop new technologies aimed at increasing the safety of everyone on board.