Many parents face a time when their little one seems ready to turn their child car seat around. The child may become restless, and cranky during car rides and turning the seat around may seem like a welcome alternative. However, if these parents are involved in a car accident, rear-facing child car seats protect the child best.
What about a rear-end car accident?
There are concerns about the safety of rear facing car seats when vehicles are involved in a rear-end car accident. During new rear-end safety testing, it was shown that rear-facing seats continued to absorb the car accident crash energy and transferred very little energy to the child itself during the car accident.
There are only a handful of states that mandate that children remain rear-facing until age 2: South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Connecticut and California. Prior car accident studies showed that rear-facing child car seats performed well in frontal and side impact car accidents, but the recent study of rear-end car accident crashes has now confirmed the same for any type of car accident.
In addition, when a child is in a rear-facing child car seat during a rear-end car accident, the neck and spine is better supported during the crash. Considering rear-end car accident crashes account for approximately 25% of all car accidents, this is welcome news to concerned parents.
How to avoid child safety seat failure in a car accident
Aside from rear-facing child safety seat use until age 2, parents can protect their children from car accident injury by practicing the following safety installation tips:
- Purchase the recommended child safety seat appropriate for your child’s age and weight
- Install the car seat correctly and/or consult a child safety seat expert to instruct you on correct installation (many fire departments and children’s hospitals offer this service for free)
- Make sure the seat is fitted tightly with no more than 1 inch of movement in any direction
- Appropriately upgrade the child’s safety seat as they continue to grow
Experts recommend researching car safety seat guidelines periodically to ensure new recommendations for safety during a car accident are applied quickly.