Most people prefer riding shotgun during road trips because the front passenger seat is comfortable and has better views. However, based on past car crash statistics, the front seat beside the driver isn’t the safest. With that in mind, enthusiasts have often debated what the safest seat in a car is. This piece highlights why we think the back-middle seat is the correct answer.

Reasons Why The Back-Middle Seat Is the Safest

According to a study by the University of Buffalo, the back-row car seats are 59% safer than the front ones. The same research further reveals that the back-middle seat is 25% safer than the adjacent seats, with its location being the major reason for this.

The back-middle seat is designed to have more room for crumple zones. In the event of an accident, when different parts of a car are crumbled, the odds of feeling the impact are significantly lower. Also, seating in the middle backseat puts one much further away from impact outside the vehicle, such as the one from incoming traffic.

Basically, seating in this position provides an extra safe space from all angles. Also, if a car rolls during a crash, the person sitting in the middle back seat will experience minimal rotational forces.

The Safest Car Seat for the Elderly

When it comes to the elderly, whose bodies are more fragile, the safest seat in a car is still the middle-back seat. However, it should be equipped with a 3-point seatbelt with a tension limiter. The tension limiter is a mechanism that ensures the seat belt firmly fits the occupant in the event of a collision.

Most car models have tension limiter seatbelts for the front seats only. In such cases, an older person is much safer riding shotgun.

The Safest Car Seat for Children Under 13

For children under 13, the middle passenger backseat remains the ideal place for them to sit while travelling. As mentioned earlier, the backseat is exposed to less stress and can easily accommodate booster seats.

Also, there is the issue of avoiding distractions. The middle back seat ensures easy access to the child while limiting the impact of unnecessary/sudden movements.

The Safest Seat for Cars with Three Rows

As for cars with third rows, the safest seat here depends on the nature of the impact. Third-row seats are often considered part-time. Therefore, they are not reinforced with advanced safety and comfort features.

For head-on collisions, passengers in the third row will be the safest because the impact will be minimal. However, the survival rate will be very low for third-row passengers involved in a rear accident. Still, the back-middle seat in the second row remains the safest position to be in, in case of impact from all directions.

Why the Seat Behind The Driver Isn’t The Safest

It wouldn’t be an argument if everyone agreed on what the safest seat in a car was. If anything, the debates have often leaned towards whether the seat at the back of the driver’s seat provides the most coverage. The answer is no!

Yes, the person seating at the seat behind the driver will indeed feel less impact in case of a head-on collision. However, how about if the car is hit from the side/back or rolls?

Why the Middle Back Seat Isn’t the Most Popular Despite Being the Safest

It’s almost as if it’s a question of comfort vs safety; the middle back seat is the least popular seating position for most people, and understandably so. The hump that accommodates the exhaust or the driveshaft is mostly placed under that seat, making it uncomfortable.

Tall people often find this seat to be very crampy. Moreover, the neighboring seats scallop out from the middle seat, making the seating posture uncomfortable for long trips.

Wearing a Seatbelt Further Improves Safety

Even though the back-middle seat is the safest, chances of survival during an accident are heavily determined by wearing a seatbelt. As cliché as it may sound, seatbelts do save lives. Therefore, seating in the back-middle seat isn’t enough. Drivers and passengers should always buckle up, irrespective of their seating location.


Whichever way you look at it, the middle back seat remains the safest, thanks to its position. It receives less impact regardless of where the car is hit in case of a crash. However, its safety still depends on whether the person seated there wears a seatbelt or not. Seatbelts significantly improve the chances of surviving a car crash.

Categorized in:


Last Update: June 26, 2024