The possible causes of car accidents can be categorized into three. The human aspect is the error or recklessness of the driver or the passengers inside. Environmental aspect is the state of the road and the current weather condition that may have caused the accident. Lastly, the machine aspect is the error or defect of the car.
Most of the cases of machine or car failure involve the user ignoring any fault that the car may have acquired due to prolong use, like loss of brake fluid or the weakening quality of the tires. However, a defect in the car's production may also cause accidents and pose threat to the people inside the car.
A defective product on cars that is often pointed as the cause of injury is the seat belt, which is quite ironic considering that the device should protect the people inside the car in case of an accident. But lately, seatback failure has also become a life-threatening defect in most cars.
In car manufacturing, the production of the seatback, or the back of the car chair, complies with the very lenient and outdated standard, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 207 - Seating Systems. Seatbacks are required to pass a strength requirement, but do not have to go through a crash test rating system.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration appealed to have the standard strengthened since they have received numerous complaints regarding seatback failure; some of them are from cars manufactured by Ford, General Motors, and Hyundai.
The most common types of seatback defect are failure of the seat back to maintain its upright position and the deformation of its frame. The head restraint of the seat may also get detached during the accident.
There are possible scenarios that can happen because of a seatback failure.
- Driver may lose control of the vehicle if he is not seated upright while maneuvering the vehicle.
- Ejection from the car after sliding out of the seat belt.
- Driver and passengers may crash into an interior structure of the vehicle.
- A passenger may get trapped underneath if a front seat's seatback collapses.
Catastrophic injuries may also result from seatback failure. Car occupants may suffer fatal head, spinal cord, neck, and chest injuries because of defective seatbacks.