Today: please place your seat back in the fully upright position!

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 2007

Dear Tom and Ray:

Please print this to save my daughter's (and other learners') lives. She drives with the back of her seat positioned so far back that she's almost lying down. She insists that because she leans forward, she is in total control. Regardless of my attempts to insist that she have back support, the practice continues. -- Danny

TOM: Danny, this is one of those situations where you're the parent, she's the child, and what she wants is tough Shinola.

RAY: The rules of law and society put us in charge of our kids until they're 18. Why? So we can keep them from killing themselves or anyone else until they're old enough to assume that responsibility themselves. Since your daughter is learning to drive, Igoing to assume she's 16. In which case, if she doesn't know enough to protect her own life, you have to do it for her.

TOM: I can't begin to understand why she wants to set her seat back like a building contractor's (you've seen them leaning way back with a cigar in one hand). But she can't do it.

RAY: If she's in an accident without a seat back, one of two things will happen. The momentum will send her forward, then backward; when she goes back, there will be nothing to support her back or neck -- one or both of which might then break.

TOM: Or, if she's hit from behind, she might go backward first, end up in a reclining position, and then slide out under the seat belt and be completely unprotected.

RAY: When engineers design safety equipment for cars, they start from the assumption that the driver will be properly belted in against a rigid seat back. Otherwise, the seat belt and air bags can't do their jobs.

TOM: So don't ask her anymore. Put the seat up in the correct position for her, and then take the fuse out! And if she refuses to cooperate, let her take the bus. Last time I checked, seats on the bus don't recline either.

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