Doing sit-ups - should that be part of getting rear-ended?

My friend is quite intelligent but he surprised me on this: he and his wife were stopped in traffic when a tractor-trailer ran into them at 45 MPH. The impact caused the seatbacks in their recent model Honda Pilot to go flat. When they hit the car in front of them the seatbacks popped back up. He was so thrilled with the way the Pilot handled the collision that we went right back to the dealer with his insurance money and bought another. Does that seem right to you that the brackets would collapse? It doesn’t to me.

Back in the mid '80s I was on a Pennsylvania interstate in a rental Chevy Celebrity.
A construction zone caused traffic to come to a standstill just around a curve with limited visibility.
A 6-wheeler box truck came around that curve at an estimated 80mph and rear-ended the car two cars behind me and caused a domino effect.
My car was struck with enough force to lay my seat flat. You can imagine what it did to the first car the truck hit.
Because I stopped with ~20 feet between the front of my car and the next we just barely tapped.
I have two herniated disks (C4, C5) to remember that by.
Anyway, there’s no way to design something like a seat back to withstand every possible situation; getting struck by a semi at 45mph is an extreme.
If your friend suffered no serious, long lasting injury from that I too agree the Pilot did a good job of protecting him.

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I just looked at a few rear-end crash tests on YouTube. This appears to be normal. It also seems to me that collapsing in a controlled manner would help spread out the impact force on the body over time, which is always good.

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Considering the amount of force involved I’m absolutely thrilled that the Pilot protected your friend that well. My guess is that Honda has a customer for life, and for very good reason.


No it’s not good. I remember some years back this was a problem on another car. In that case, the children sitting behind the collapsed seat were crushed to death. Of course, at some point, it’s going to fail if the impact is great enough. IMO, that shouldn’t be the case where the occupants walk away completely unscathed. This is a real danger to back seat passengers…

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I agree with TwinTurbo. What happens if those unbuckled kids in the back seat who may or may not be dead at this point go flying forward and just happen to make it over the tops of the seats before they have a chance to pop back up.

Just mentioning that as not all states require rear seat occupants to be buckled in. There’s also the seat belt operation to be considered after a seat falls flat.

Your friends are extremely lucky to survive a rear impact at that speed by a semi of all things.

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I agree - neither argument seems good - if the rear passengers aren’t buckled they go flying, if they are buckled they get crushed. If designing the seat brackets to fail is intentional to absorb impact, how are the front seat occupants going to feel knowing that the rear seat passengers were sacrificed?

I didn’t know there were states that don’t require rear passengers to be buckled. That’s extremely ignorant considering that an unbuckled rear passenger can actually wind up killing a front occupant when he goes flying forward.

I kinda doubt it was a real feature of the seats. More like a likely tale.

I think roughly half of the U.S. states do not require rear seat occupants to be buckled in. Some of the ones that do require it have some caveats involved.

Hey Bing, that’s what Audi claimed in a trial. In fact, the design change is reportedly only a couple of dollars more expensive (heard this line before?) BTW- it doesn’t matter if the kids are strapped in. They can be crushed when properly seated in a booster or belted in as well. Read all about it here-

Something else to be concerned about then. Who woulda thunk? Seat mechanisms are not exactly something you can inspect either when buying a car. You just expect them to be substantial.

There are federal standards they have to meet.
But getting hit by a semi doing 45 mph while you’re standing still??
I’d consider walking away alive to having been successfully protected. The tractor alone could easily weigh in excess of 20,000 pounds, depending on it’s type (dual axles, sleeper, other variables). And their frames are not made to absorb energy… they’re made to stay in shape while toing 60,000 pounds or more. That ain’t spaghetti!!

In regard to the story about the Audi in the link posted by TwinTurbo note the comment from the engineer’s deposition which I cut and paste below. This engineer (word used loosely) should be (if not already) canned like a tuna and not even be allowed to engineer a sandbox.

In a deposition for the case, a company engineer said the car was designed so someone in the backseat would “support the front seat with his knees.”

Gotta agree with OK on that one. It made my knees hurt just reading about it. Can you imagine a hard seat back slamming into your knees in the back seat while a tractor is slamming you from behind? Insane. I think I’ll drive thank you. I always watch the rear view mirror.

However, I am amazed at how few people actually do it.
When I am driving, I check my rear view mirror every couple of minutes. Obviously more often would be even better, but over the years I have been able to avoid a couple of rear impacts by simply checking the mirror every couple of minutes.

Something that especially mystifies me is when I see a car whose rear view mirror is dangling in a position that makes it absolutely unusable.
I wouldn’t even drive around the block with a mirror like that.

I constantly check all my mirrors as I drive.
But, then, I’m not too busy texting, chatting on the phone, eating a peanut butter sandwich, drinking coffee, reading a newspaper, or any of the many other things I’ve seen other drivers doing, so I have time to check my mirrors. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I am glad the OP’s friends were not seriously hurt. But seats should not collapse or fold down in an accident. The accident is bad enough, lots of stress on the human body. A seat going up and down rapidly could cause back injuries. Newer cars are well designed and built to withstand a collision. As a fire fighter we frequently get to a scene and the driver/passenger are already out even though the crumple zone of the car is a mess. If there is an occupant in the car, the ideal way to get them out is to open the door (we do not always have to use tools), get a neck brace on them and put a backboard on the seat, slide them onto the board and get them to the ambulance. Last year we had a collision where the drivers seat collapsed and he was laying flat in his seat. We did not want to bend him and risk more injury so we had to pop the drivers door, rear drivers side door and cut the center post. Once we cut the center post we could get a backboard under him and got him out. Once the center post was cut the car was totaled, no way could it be fixed after that. The collision was not that severe, the car may have been able to been repaired. But the collapsing seat forced us to cut the post, the car was a parts car after that.

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