U.S. senators send letter to 17 automakers probing seatback safety

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WASHINGTON D.C. - More than a dozen automakers were sent a letter from two U.S. senators, Wednesday, regarding concerns about seatback safety.

For years, families have been told they should put their children in a car seat in the back seat of their vehicle, but what if doing that is actually putting their child's life at risk? That's what Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) want to find out through their request for more information about the strength of seatbacks in rear-end collisions. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are among the companies that received the letters.

They wrote, "There has been longstanding concern that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 207, which specifies the minimum number of requirements for seat strength, is not sufficient to mitigate injury or death of a rear seat occupant due to seatback collapse in a rear-end collision.”

See the list of automakers and read the full letter here.

The Warner family wants to see change.

17-month-old Taylor Warner was just learning how to walk when her life suddenly ended.

She was in her car seat in the back of the family's 2010 Honda Odyssey when it was rear-ended. The driver's seat in front of her collapsed on impact and struck her in the face causing head injuries that killed her.

"Then that was the end of it," said her mother Liz Warner. "We didn't really get to, you know, get to know her anymore."

After the Warner family buried their baby girl, they soon learned they weren't alone. And it wasn't just a Honda issue.

According to our news partners at KDVR, at least 20 automakers have been sued for seat back failures.

Experts on this problem blame old federal safety standards used to test front seats. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration standards date back to 1971. Experts say even lawn chairs can pass those standards.

"I just don't want other people to feel this. I don't want other people to go through this," said Warner.