The effect of the unrestrained back seat passenger on the injuries suffered by drivers and front seat passengers in head-on collisions

Z Rechtsmed. 1984;92(3):199-204. doi: 10.1007/BF00200255.


In head-on collisions, loose items in the rear of the car, such as luggage or unrestrained back seat passengers can cause substantial loading on the back of the front seats. The purpose of this paper is to study if such loading increases the injury severity for the front seat occupants. Data were collected from all fatal automobile accidents for a period of 1 year in Sweden. Information was collected about the survivors as well as the decreased. Head-on collisions were selected, and the injuries of the front seat occupants were scored according to the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) and the Injury Severity Score (ISS). In evaluating the injury severity, the collision energy was taken into account. The results indicate that belted front seat passengers sustain a higher injury risk with an unrestrained passenger in the back seat. These results are valid for collision speeds below 45 km/h.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Seat Belts*
  • Sweden
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*