The Safest Seat in Your Car Is Not Where You Would Think

In all of your years of driving and riding in cars, have you ever wondered which seat in the cabin is the safest in the case of an accident? You may think it’s one of the front seats considering there’s plenty of space and larger airbags, but you would be wrong. In fact, the safest seat in your car may not be where you think it is.

Where is the safest seat in a car?

A dad buckles his kids into the back seat of a car.
A dad buckles his kids into the back seat of a car. | Anthony Devlin – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

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According to Family Handyman, the safest seat in a car is the rear middle seat. This answer is the result of many studies conducted by the University of Buffalo, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and other findings. What’s most interesting, though, is that the safest spot in a car can vary depending on the occupant’s age.

The studies also found that children under the age of eight have the lowest risk of death in the backseat. However, the risk of death increased slightly for children ages nine to 12. The studies then showed that passengers aged 13 and up to 54 didn’t have any increased fatality rates no matter which seat they were in – front or back.

Although, it was deemed that the rear middle seat was technically the safest for all ages and it’s worth it to note that all of the studies were conducted with the passengers properly seat-belted in.

Cars with the safest rear seats

Now that we know that the rear seat is the safest spot in the car, you might be wondering which cars have the safest rear-seat areas. Fortunately, Consumer Reports has done the legwork and tested a multitude of different cars while rating them in different categories. Those categories included:

  • Booster seat use
  • The availability of a rear occupant alert
  • Rear-seat belt minders
  • Advanced rear restraints
  • Rear head restraints

Surprisingly, the 2022 Honda Civic scored the highest in all of the categories while the Nissan Pathfinder came in second. The Mitsubishi Outlander scored pretty well and it was followed by the Acura MDX and Nissan Frontier, both of which were penalized for not having proper belt reminders.

These findings go against the conventional wisdom of SUVs and trucks being safer in a crash, but don’t get it twisted. Remember that these ratings are mainly based on each vehicle’s rear-seat safety equipment as opposed to actual crash-test data.

Here are the result from Consumer Reports’ data:

Rear seat ratings for a variety of vehicles.
Rear seat ratings for a variety of vehicles. | Consumer Reports

Always remember to buckle up

2022 Honda Civic Touring rear seat
2022 Honda Civic Touring rear seat | Honda

While sitting in the back seat of any car is technically the safest spot, what makes any seat even safer is remembering to buckle up. Many studies have shown that passengers that fail to buckle up are eight times more likely to suffer a serious injury or die in the event of an automobile accident.

There’s only so much that safety equipment can do, but the three-point seatbelt is the most important part. That, and sitting in the middle. So, the next time you ride in a packed car, you want to think about calling “shotgun” and instead of sitting uncomfortably, but safely, between the two other rear-seat passengers.

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