Most of the technological developments in vehicles over the last ten or twenty years have focused on safety as at least a partial element. Many of these developments and improvements have contributed to fewer or less serious injuries for vehicle occupants, but a new research study says that more recently manufactured vehicles may put passengers at risk of serious lower spine injuries.

The research might at first seem counterintuitive, since the newer a vehicle is, the less likely a vehicle occupant is to suffer chest and head injuries in an accident. That’s thanks to highly-tested airbags and other safety components that have evolved to become as injury-prevention focused as possible. According to Frank Pintar, professor of neurosurgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, achievements in this area are directly tied to the fact that head and neck injuries have been a focus of study in car accidents for decades.

This focus, however, has had some unintended side effects. Since so much of the safety development has been in the form of better seatbelts and airbags, individuals might be alarmed to know that there have been more disabling lumbar spine injuries despite the fact that head and neck injuries have been on a downward trend.

The researchers exploring this phenomenon believe that the current design of vehicle safety tests could have something to do with it: manufacturers and designers might try to optimize the safety features protecting the head and neck so the vehicle scores well in crash tests, but there is no real attention given to how to minimize or prevent spine injuries.

The research team hopes to have some suggestions on how to better create seats in cars for manufacturers by this fall.

Have you already been injured in a car accident? Conducting an investigation as soon as possible after the accident might give you more detail about what caused it. For example, make sure you look into options like defective car parts. More complicated personal injury claims may involve cases with multiple parties holding responsibility for the accident.