A group of burn-treatment doctors and safety advocates is calling on the federal government to address the dangers of car seat heaters.
As USA Today reports, the heaters, which are used to keep backs and bottoms toasty on cold days, are particularly dangerous for paralyzed drivers and passengers. They, and other motorists with disabilities, can be burned without realizing it until the damage already has been done.
Some of the heaters, safety experts say, can reach 160 degrees, and even 120 degrees is more than enough to give motorists third-degree burns.
Dozens of people have been injured by their car heaters, said Sean Kane of the advocacy group Safety Research & Strategies. Doctors recommend, USA Today said, that warmers be prohibited from exceeding 105 degrees, a limit that some car manufacturers already abide by.
The argument for regulation was set out in a letter sent by Kane to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as well as to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. He called on the federal agency to “re-examine its approach to seat heater defect investigations and regulations.”
NHTSA has recalled seat heaters on nine occasions in the past 30 years, but only because of perceived fire risks. Heaters that, while ostensibly working properly, could be capable of injuring drivers have not been taken into consideration.
“It’s a common sense thing — you have something that burns people and a population at risk,” said Dr. David Greenhalgh, a burn expert with Shriners Hospitals for Children in Northern California. “People need to know about it.”