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In The Hot Seat: NHTSA To Examine Seat Heater Burn Cases

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2011 Infiniti G37 Coupe 2-door Journey RWD Front Seats

2011 Infiniti G37 Coupe 2-door Journey RWD Front Seats

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Many of us have experienced the unpleasant roasting of thighs and backside when sitting on leather or vinyl seats after they've spent a day in the sun.

You wouldn't expect the same in cold weather but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is set to analyze data from several cases where a vehicle's seat heating option has caused drivers third-degree burns to their buns.

Newsaper USA Today called for the NHTSA to reconsider how it decides a vehicle has unsafe seat heaters after uncovering stories of dozens of people who've suffered burns on heated seats, many thanks to paralysis and other sensory issues preventing them from feeling when the seat gets too hot.

David Greenhalgh, burn doctor at Shriners Hospital for Children in North California, has said that 105 degrees farenheit is the maximum temperature a seat should be able to reach for safety reasons. Some burns cases have revealed seats that have reached as high as 120 degrees. At this temperature, burns can occur within ten minutes.

Greenhalgh has also asked the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to introduce other features, such as the ability to disconnect the heaters for customers with lower-body sensory issues, maximum temperature levels, and seat heaters set to switch off after a certain time period.

The NHTSA will decide whether the heaters can pose an unreasonable risk to safety, and decide on what actions, if any, are needed to address the problem.

[USA Today]
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