Back in February, SRS wrote to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and National Mobility Equipment Dealers about the problem of car seat heaters and drivers with lower body sensory deficits, such as paraplegics and diabetics (See It’s Time to Make Seat Heaters Safer). Many consumer heating devices that make direct contact with the body, such as electric blankets, are designed with maximum temperature limits, but not so in the auto industry. In the absence of any regulation or industry standard, vehicle manufacturers have implemented a variety of designs, some of which lack an automatic cut-off and reach maximum temperatures that can produce third-degree burns or both.
For occupants who have limited or no sensations below the waist, these designs are dangerous. The medical literature has been documenting severe burns suffered by disabled drivers and passengers from car seat heaters since 2003, and nationally recognized burn care specialists joined our effort to engage adapters, regulators and manufacturers in averting these preventable injuries. Continue reading
Today, Safety Research & Strategies called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the industry to correct a longstanding safety problem: seat heaters that injure disabled drivers and passengers. With no government or industry-wide standards, manufacturers have installed a variety of seat heater systems – some that reach temperatures significantly above human tolerances or have no automatic shut-off mechanism – or both. While most drivers know when to turn a hot seat off, occupants with lower body sensory deficits don’t feel the burn. The medical literature has been documenting serious and permanent burn injuries from car seat heaters to occupants with paralysis or diabetes since 2003. Disabled motorists have been complaining about the problem to NHTSA since, at least, 2002. The industry’s response has been to bury a warning in the owner’s manual. NHTSA’s approach to seat heater defects has been: no flames, no problem. These are preventable injuries – and it’s time government and industry began preventing them.
The medical community has joined us in this campaign. We encourage readers to do the same by sending NHTSA, The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association letters supporting changes in standards and practices.
See below to read our briefing paper and our requests to NHTSA and the industry:
Feb. 22, 2011 Safety Research & Strategies, Seat Heater Injuries
Feb. 22, 2011 Letter to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland
Feb. 22, 2011 Letter to Robert Strassburger, Vice President, Vehicle Safety and Harmonization, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
Feb. 22, 2011 Letter to Dave Hubbard Chief Executive Officer, National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association