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Have You Heard Of The Seat Back Defect?

November 29, 2016
Colson Hicks Eidson

A family was riding in their Honda Odyssey Minivan when it was suddenly struck from behind. A car moving at 55 mph rear-ended the minivan and broke the seat back of the minivan’s driver. The driver fell backwards on top of his 16-month-old daughter. The girl did not survive.

Have You Heard Of The Seat Back Defect?

Not many people have heard of the seat back defect. Yet over 100 people have been injured or killed by this defect since 1989. And most of the victims have been children. So why haven’t we heard about it? That’s what lawmakers in Washington D.C. want to know.

Senator Ed Markey is leading a congressional inquiry into the seat back collapse defect. He and his fellow members of congress want to know why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and automakers haven’t fixed this problem. And so far, senators and representatives aren’t liking the answers they are getting back.

Why Hasn’t There Been A Recall?

It turns out that the seats causing these injuries and deaths meet federal safety standards. This has led advocates to call for new seat safety requirements as well as new seating protocols from NHTSA.  However, NHTSA claims that this is an overreaction.

NHTSA says these types of rear-end crashes are too rare to justify a recall. But experts that testified before Congress stated that a fix for these seats could cost as little as one dollar. The auto industry is also feeling the pinch as lawsuits mount in favor of the victims of this defect.

One jury found that Audi was responsible for gross negligence in a seat back traumatic brain injury case. It stated that the automaker had a responsibility to exceed federal standards to guarantee passenger safety. Yet, NHTSA is still slow to act.

NHTSA is publishing new guidelines for seating children in backseats instead of calling for a recall. Senator Markey is unsatisfied with the agency’s effort. Do you think NHTSA should do more? Do you think the seat back defect is the next Takata recall in the making? Tell us what you think on Twitter and Facebook.