Today, the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) released a research report detailing evidence-based recommendations to make the rear seat of passenger vehicles safer for children and adolescents, its most common occupants. The CPS Issue Report: Optimizing the Rear Seat for Children looks at the current data and provides recommendations to better protect older children that have outgrown add-on restraints and are using only the vehicle seat belts. By bringing technologies already protecting front seat passengers to the rear seat and modifying the geometry of the rear seat to better fit this age group, the US could achieve important reductions in serious injury and death. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for children older than 4 years and resulted in 952 fatalities in 2010 for children age 15 and younger.

The report authors also suggest the development of regulatory procedures or vehicle performance assessment programs for consumers that evaluate protection of rear seat occupants, as common vehicle rating systems do not evaluate the safety of rear seat occupants in frontal crashes. In addition to engineering solutions, the report recommends policies and programs to increase rear seat restraint use, which remains lower than front seat restraint use and is a key risk factor for dying in a crash. Additional research is needed to further inform these priorities.