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    Passenger seat belt warnings should be mandatory, say feds / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 August - 16:46 · 1 minute

A woman sitting in the back seat of a car fastens her seatbelt

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Not all vehicle occupants are protected equally when it comes to car crashes. Until 2017, cars weren't even routinely crash-tested on the passenger side , just the driver's. There's still other low-hanging fruit, too; thousands of rear-seat passengers die in cars each year in the United States because they're not wearing seat belts, despite decades of evidence on the effectiveness of buckling up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now had enough and has proposed a new rule that would mean new cars, trucks, and even some buses would need to have seat belt warning alerts for all occupants, not just the driver.

Seat belts have been mandatory equipment for all seats in cars and trucks (but not buses) since 1968, thanks to the US Department of Transport. But the US has lagged behind much of the world when it comes to requiring their use; this is determined at the state level, and it wasn't until 1984 that New York became the first US state to require seat belt use.

Since then , 48 other states, along with the District of Columbia, now require front seat occupants to wear belts—New Hampshire remains unconvinced—but a total of 10 states don't require rear passengers to wear seat belts by law.

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    Only four midsize SUVs score good rating in IIHS rear-seat safety tests / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 14 March, 2023 - 14:04

A crash-tested Tesla Model Y

Enlarge / The Tesla Model Y earned a good rating in IIHS' rear seat protection crash test. (credit: IIHS)

Only four of 13 midsize SUVs earned good ratings when it came to protecting rear-seat passengers in an impact, according to new crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Of that 13, two were battery-electric vehicles—the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y—and both achieved good ratings, as did the Ford Explorer and Subaru Ascent.

The IIHS has been crash-testing cars at its Vehicle Research Center in Virginia since the early 1990s after noticing that most head-on collisions were offset, something the federal government's crash tests did not account for. Since then, the organization has added several other crash tests that car manufacturers are eager to pass in order to earn a coveted "Top Safety Pick" rating.

The IIHS updated its moderate overlap front crash test in 2022 after becoming frustrated that front-seat safety gains made by the industry have not been shared with those sitting in the back of a car.

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    We need better crash test dummies, says Government Accountability Office / ArsTechnica · Monday, 13 March, 2023 - 16:03

Crash test dummy heads about to hit airbags

Enlarge (credit: Wayne Eastep/Getty Images)

Women and older people are being failed by our crash test dummies, according to the US Government Accountability Office. The GAO has just published a new report on the topic and is concerned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not done enough to fill knowledge or research gaps that would make our vehicles safer for those more-vulnerable classes of occupants. Consequently, the GAO is recommending that NHTSA create a comprehensive plan to improve that crash test dummy data.

There's no question that cars today are safer than they were even two decades ago. In addition to the crash testing required by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FVMSS), programs like NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Picks publicize their test scores, which has forced manufacturers to improve occupant protection to get those all-important safety scores, and now cars have to be designed to deal with offset collisions, side impacts, and rollovers, as well as head-on crashes.

But the benefits of improved in-car safety have been mostly seen by men.

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