If you are among the millions who will travel by car for the holidays this year, you may also be planning to take turns behind the wheel with another driver. One person sleeps while the other one drives. It’s just standard practice, tradition even, for many travelers. It is a way to cut down on travel time and skip the expense of a hotel room.
What most do not realize is how dangerous is it to ride in a car with the seat reclined. Why? It not only renders your seatbelt useless, it can make your seatbelt an added hazard.
Seat Belt Positioning
When you recline your seat, the seat belt is no longer positioned properly on your body. You have room to slam into the belt, or you can slide under it. The seatbelt itself can cause severe injuries when it is worn improperly. It is not uncommon for passengers who are reclining to have severe injuries in accidents where the driver and other passengers are uninjured or suffer only minor injuries.
Car Makers and the Government Know, Choose to do Nothing
Automakers have known of the risks for decades, and there are many ways to reduce those risks, but they do not implement them. The simplest, and one of the least invasive for car owners, would be a warning system, like the one that lets you know when you’ve reclined too far for safety, like the one that reminds you continually when you don’t latch your seat belt. There is also the option of attaching the seat belt to the seat instead of the pillar. This would keep the belt in the proper position on the passenger, even when reclining.
Automakers claim that people already know that it’s not safe to ride while reclining, that it is common sense. But most people don’t know. And, there are no federal regulations requiring automakers to address the problem. As drivers and passengers, we are subjected to seatbelt laws, and face fines if we don’t wear our seat belts, presumably for our own safety, and yet there is no warning that wearing your seat belt, as you are required to do, while reclining, could be the cause of your injuries.
If you have been injured as a passenger in an auto accident, please talk to an experienced auto accident attorney like attorney J. Clay McCaslin right away to learn more about your rights and potential compensation.