Rear-facing car seats have been proven to be up to five times safer for children compared to forward-facing. Yet, we see small children travelling forward-facing way too early. Irrespective of the design of the car seat, it cannot change the fact of a child’s development and the importance of protecting every single part of our vulnerable child. Let us take you through this once and for all by three key steps.
- The size of a child’s head
As we know by now a child’s head is disproportionate to the body and makes up to 25% of the total body weight in comparison to an adult where the head only counts for about 6% of the total bodyweight. At the same time, a child’s neck is extra vulnerable since it is not fully developed yet. The sensitive neck in combination with the head’s weight makes it even more important to protect and support the child’s neck for as long as possible.
- Forces acting on the neck up to five times greater
Frontal crash tests show that the forces acting on the neck is up to five times greater when the child sits forward-facing compared to rear-facing. During impact in a forward-facing seat the body is being pushed out of the car seat with only the belt keeping the upper body in place, but the head still wants to move forward. This results in crash forces being transferred to the child’s neck, creating enormous tension in the neck.A rear-facing car seat’s biggest advantage is that it supports the child’s entire back, neck and head, distributing the crash forces over a larger area and therefore significantly reduces the forces imposed on the neck. Therefore, a rear-facing car seat gives your child better protection and reduces the risk of injury in the event of a collision.
- The risk of damaging soft parts
The belt routing is essential for your child’s safety. The position of the lap belt is crucial for the safety and to protect your child. The lap belt should be low over the strong pelvic bones (hips) and NOT across the stomach. In the event of a crash the hip bones will help to protect you child form serious injuries while if the lap belt is positioned over the stomach the risk of damaging soft parts is extremely higher.
Swedish authorities about Forward facing shield technology
Some forward-facing car seats do not use the vehicle seat belt to restrain the child, but instead using a so-called impact shield. The Swedish National Society for Road Safety are strongly taking distance for this type of car seats and states . The main reason for this is as stated in point 3, that all the crash forces end up where the shield is located – over the sensitive stomach and the soft parts of the child.
The Swedish insurance company Folksam did a car seat test including this type of car seat where all of them ended up in the category “AVOID THESE”. HERE you can read about the test. The insurance company states that the crash forces acting on the soft parts such as the child’s stomach is extremely high. In the explanation of the test Folksam also refers to crash tests from Transport Canada where test with a shield system have appeared to be even more dangerous when it comes to roll-over accidents or where the child in some of the tests even were thrown out of the shield system and the car seat system.
Please, for your child’s safety. Always choose a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible.
It will protect your child’s neck, soft parts and make sure that your child is as safe as possible in every single event of a collision.