Concern about Head Injury - Third Row Seating

Concern about Head Injury - Third Row Seating

Newbie here. We take delivery in about a week.

I was shopping for car seats / boosters for our kids, and came across this website expressing concerns about safety in the third row.

Specifically this image of the 5' 1" reviewer :

She goes on to caution that kids 52" tall or more in the third row would not be safe in those seats in a booster seat, or full backed booster, because their heads would be in a similar position (forward and up).

Can anyone address this? It seems like a serious issue if true. I'm trying to figure out what boosters etc to get for our kids (ages 3, 6, 7, 9) to fit them into the car safely.

Model_D | 13 oktober 2017

I too am ever so slightly concerned about this. I still am willing to ride in the 3rd row even though I have a long torso since Tesla probably designed the X to be safe for all passengers. (I have to ride in the center seat in the rear of a Model S and can’t ride in the back seat of a Mercedes CLK for example) I doubt she is an expert on crash dynamics. I doubt that one’s spine will straighten up in a crash like she demonstrates. What happens when the seat belt locks?

lilbean | 13 oktober 2017

I, personally, do not feel that the third row is as safe as the second row. I feel that it is too close to the rear bumper.

curryba | 13 oktober 2017

Thanks for your replies. The point is that a full back booster seat pushes the child's head up and forwards like in the picture, all the time.

Model_D | 13 oktober 2017

I thought the main reason for a full back booster was to position the shoulder strap over the collar bone. If I were you I would strap your kids in an actual model X and see if they need a booster. If they do, I have seen bottom only boosters that come with a strap to pull the shoulder harnesses down to the correct position. Most kids I seen in boosters have the shoulder strap going across the shoulder instead of the collar bone.

patswin | 13 oktober 2017

At 6' tall my head does not hit the roof support. Not sure how she manages to sit up so high in photo. I can't imagine a child that is 52" tall having any issue even on a booster seat although I would not think they would need one at that point anyway.

Ninefiveone | 13 oktober 2017

We have a full back booster seat and have used it in the 3rd row. It does not push our child's head up and forward like that picture at all. We've had other children in booster seats in that row as well. I can't say we've had every combination of child and booster seat back there but our sampling says what she's posted is not reality in the slightest.

I don't think she understands car crash dynamics as well as she thinks she does...

curryba | 21 oktober 2017

Whew, this is not an issue for us either. We got the car today, and any way we do the car seats and boosters, the kids heads are in no danger. Too bad about that website. I don't understand how she got her head to reach up there if she's really 5'1" Even a taller adult has no problem there.

Redmiata98 | 21 oktober 2017

The kids with a booster seat can easily sit in the second row.

bengarlick | 22 oktober 2017

The third row seats are clearly exceedingly dangerous for medium-tall passengers. It is just a matter of time (if it has not happened already) that someone is killed or suffers devastating neck injuries from this seating/roof design. The problem is that someone can sit 'comfortably' in that seat and think they are safe, but in even a minor frontal crash their forehead would strike the rear hatch-window-frame cross member, violently rotating the head backwards, breaking the person's neck. Tesla 'cleverly' used the glass hatch roof to allow more headroom with a lower aerodynamic roof, but this just means people might sit in this seat who are too tall to survive there in even a minor frontal impact accident. Tesla should have a disclaimer (height restriction?) about this issue.

burdogg | 22 oktober 2017

So are there no official dummy tests with a taller dummy in the third row seat?

I have a hard time Tesla would not say anything - they promote and have proven how safe these vehicles are. This car has been out for 2 years now (officially) and no such reports of any issues with that seat. Maybe time will tell, but I have my doubts we will see issues.

bengarlick | 22 oktober 2017

It is statistically probable such an accident just has not happened yet given the relatively small number of model X's on the road and the relatively small odds that a tall occupant would be in the 3rd row during an accident. (most tall people are typically offered a seat further forward). I am 6'2" and can sit in the third row and my head does not touch the glass ceiling, however if I slide my body horizontally forward (as would happen in an accident) my head would travel just 3 inches before squarely striking the frame low on my forehead. I am not sure, but I would guess anyone over 6', or maybe someone even shorter but with a tall torso is at [extreme] risk in the third row.

burdogg | 22 oktober 2017

I have sat in the back (6') but have not played with how I would have to move to hit my head :) So just trying to figure out what you are saying :)

Are you saying if your whole body moves forward, or just you bend at the waist? In a crash, the seatbelt you should be wearing would prevent your whole body moving horizontally. It also should prevent some bending movement as well - how much I don't know. I don't want to go out to my garage right now (it is cold) to play around with this all but sounds like a good little experiment to see. Again, just trying to see what exactly you are talking about as far as movement you are experiencing, as trying to visualize how body horizontal movement would work :)

And yes, statistically, probably low chance of it happening yet, and I think in general, the probability of an adult sitting in the third row and having an accident are very low too :)

lilbean | 22 oktober 2017

Good point. Your body would not go forward if your seatbelt is on.

burdogg | 22 oktober 2017

ok, so I went out and played a little - it is really hard to know exactly how your body would be thrown in the event of an accident. At 6', if my seatbelt worked properly, or the way I think it should, my next would snap forward, and i would be just under the bar and not hit it. Now if my body was extended up some and then forward, yes I would hit it. Now I am not saying body life out of my seat up, I am saying if the forces caused me to sit more straight up and then jerk forward, which may be possible depending on the speed and force of the collision, then yes it is possible.

So, I am back and forth on this one - is it possible at 6' - yes. How possible??? I don't know. That being said though - I don't need a disclaimer, as the first time I sat back there I noticed how close that bar was and where my head was in relation to it all. Would I still sit back there - yes, and I have sat back there before :)

But it is good to be aware of :)

lilbean | 22 oktober 2017

I guess it’s possible if you floor it and catch air at the top of a street in San Francisco, then you would hit the bar without your seatbelt and then rear end someone in mid air who is doing the same thing. Unlikely. Gotta time it just right.

bengarlick | 22 oktober 2017

In an accident your whole body moves straight forward until the non-negligible slack is taken up in the seat belt ('an object in motion stays in motion', and every part of your body is equally in forward motion the moment the car hits something and starts to be rapidly accelerated backwards. When the seat belts do engage one's head does start rotating forward and down as the torso is held back, however the problem is there is very little horizontal space (~3 inches) between the forehead of a tall person and the car/window frame so the head would strike the frame probably before the seat belts go tight and before the head starts to rotate downwards below the ceiling. (one can see this effect in high-speed videos of crash-test dummies during collisions. There is a surprising amount of slack in seat belts. Even with 'snug' seat belts the body moves forward several inches before the belts start restraining the occupant.
If while sitting 3rd row the top of your head is below the level of the cloth/alcantra headliner you 'should' be fine, but if (like in my case) the top of your head fits below the glass but is higher than the cloth/alcantra headliner then it will most likely strike the plastic window trim/frame in an frontal collision.

patswin | 24 oktober 2017

Couple comments:
1)Watching crash tests I see upper body simultaneously moves forward and down. The seat belts allow movement forward but not without resistance so body cannot move forward at a constant level for any notable distance.
2) the model x is safest suv ever tested
3) maybe I am crazy but when traveling with 6 people, I have the smallest folks ride in 3 rd row.

khanhvn | 24 oktober 2017

it's not clear if the roof hurts or helps here. Without the roof, one's neck would be bent forward and downward in a frontal crash. With the roof, the neck would be bent backward and upward. Not sure which way is worse.

Overall I think it's about the same, and the roof may be a bit better if there is enough soft padding.

Uncle Paul | 29 oktober 2017

In most cars the seat belts are designed to give a little if you wish to slowly lean forward. This is for comfort and convenience, however in a crash, the belts are designed to clinch up tight with any rapid movements.

This allows front seat passengers to slowly reach for the glove box or to push a button, but restrains them in a collision.

Ninefiveone | 29 oktober 2017

It’s actually more than that. Today’s seatbelts have pre-tensioners. Small explosive charges that don’t just cinch up tight, they actually pull the person back into the seat tighter, minimizing and/or eliminating forward body motion.

patswin | 29 oktober 2017

“second—The load limiter goes into action as the occupant moves forward.
The shock resulting from the accident reaches the passengers and the inertial force moves them forward. At this very moment when a specified level of weight is transferred to the webbing, the seat belt load limiter activates and is allowed to move webbing from the housing to help absorb the early weight burden on the occupant.“
This is from Takata on how a seatbelt works. This and by looking at crash tests it looks like the seatbelt allows some movement initially to help reduce amount of force on passengers during a crash.
Again from looking at crash tests it looks like hips move forward some but head appears to immediately start arching downward.
The takata site also states that the system that stops seatbelt immediately when yanking on it is an entirely different stopping mechanism than the one that takes over in a crash

scabello800 | 30 oktober 2017

I would not use a booster on a 7 and 9 year old. That is me. I think the legal requirement in California stops at 4'9".

The beauty of the falcon wings and the second row -- real easy to strap the kids into their seats.

But if your kids are in the third row, I say give them seat belts.. i think your point is valid and that would be a safer bet

IgnoranceBliss | 1 november 2017

I HAVE WARNED ABOUT THIS FOR 2 YEARS... Severe Potential for Neck and Head Injury as depicted in

Anyone in the 3rd row tall enough to have their head above the cargo door frame is at risk during a sudden stop, but only if their head will hit the frame and not clear below it.

As a physician, I never allowed anyone to sit in the 3rd row that this could happen to, so I always tested passengers.

The seat belt restraints are often not sufficient to minimize head impact, and a warning sticker should be located in that area.

I have never seen a safety video of the Model X with a tall enough crash-test "dummy" in that seat... shame on the testing entities.

Vawlkus | 1 november 2017

So Ignorant. Go away now Mr. Troll.

Redmiata98 | 1 november 2017

...and don’t forget to add a warning sticker for the adhesive on the warning sticker and...sheesh, can’t you troll better than that?

lilbean | 1 november 2017

This car seat chick is a fraud. You can see how she elongates her body to reach the roof. She isn’t simply leaning forward. What a load of crap!

patswin | 2 november 2017

Exactly lilbean. And it’s no coincidence the picture doesn’t show her bottom half. There is no way at 5’1” she sits up that high. I bet she is sitting in booster. I am nearly 1 foot taller than her and my head is about same height as hers. I lean forward and I miss the bar by about an inch. But if I stiffen my body and stretch it as much as I can I hit my head on the bar

lilbean | 2 november 2017

Yep. People who decieve like her disgust me.

lilbean | 2 november 2017

Ok I did it. I finally sat in the third row. I leaned forward and there is at least four inches of clearance from the roof. And I am 5'1", thank you very much. She is a bullshitter!

lilbean | 2 november 2017

I think you are right, @hawkeyecustom! She is sitting on her own natural booster seat, about a foot of fat for padding. LOL!