Seat belts and reclining

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Seat belts and reclining

Seat Belts Not As Effective If Seatback Is Reclined

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People who spend a long time in the car are likely to recline the front passenger seat. But when that happens their seat belt may not protect them.

One family found out the hard way.

"I got a phone call from Rebecca. She's crying, frantic," explained Lisa Goodner.
It was a phone call that turned into a nightmare for the Goodner family.
"I can't find her. We were in an accident, and I can't find Sarah," said Goodner recalling her daughter's words to her the night of the accident.
Sarah was in the passenger seat. Her sister Rebecca was driving. They on their way home wearing their seatbelts when Rebecca fell asleep and crashed into a tree.
"When the car began to spin, the seatbelt didn't hold Sarah in, and she was ejected out the back window of the Hyundai," said Stu Goodner, the girls' father.
What they later learned stunned them. Because Sarah's seat was in the reclined position her safety belt did not protect her.
You may not have known belts might not protect you when the seat is reclined. But government agencies have known that for more than 20 years.
The National Transportation Safety Board in 1988 wrote "the protection offered by a lap/shoulder belt can be compromised if its user has the seatback reclined while the vehicle is in motion." But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declined to act.
Car manufacturers do put warnings in owner's manuals, but the Goodner's who sued Hyundai and won $1.8 million are hoping auto makers will do even more. They'd like to see warning signs posted inside the car.

Florida International Student Chris Zagales sees his friends reclining their passenger seats all the time while driving around South Florida and he doubts any of them know about the danger.
It wasn't difficult for Chris to see the problem for himself when he reclined his car seat and that's exactly what the Goodner's have been worrying about for the past 3 years.
"It's been almost three years and it still seems like yesterday. But I don't want anyone to have to go through this, so whatever we can do to stop that is important to me," admitted Lisa Goodner.

Hyundai told CBS News it believes the accident was the driver's fault, but the jury's verdict amounted to a finding that nearly every car on the road is defective and dangerous for allowing front passengers to recline their seats.

18 Comments to Seat belts and reclining:

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