A Society of Automotive Engineers committee is considering ways to eliminate a passenger’s need to manually shut-off the seat heater or lower the temperature. Among the proposals are a maximum temperature setting for seat heaters that would be standard across the industry. The committee is also considering automatic shut-off features.
Although the rate of injury from seat heaters is extremely low, and there is no major safety concern linked to them, according to the NHTSA, the fact that many vulnerable persons are getting injured simply because they are unable to tell that the temperature has become too high is cause for concern, and personal injury attorneys have been seeing more cases of burn-related claims.
Since 1984 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received more than 1,260 complaints regarding seat heaters. Almost all of these complaints were linked to overheating of the seats, and in at least 287 of these cases, the persons on the seats were injured. In 512 of the cases, the seat got heated enough to cause a fire.