Car Seats in Rear Impact Crashes
July 12, 2018
If you have an infant or a young child, you know that car seat manufacturers advise using rear-facing car seats to protect your offspring. If you are involved in a car accident where the impact occurs on the front or side of the vehicle, these seats are known to protect their occupants. However, more than 25 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are rear impact crashes. A recent study conducted by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds that rear-facing car seats are also effective in reducing injuries when the vehicle is struck from behind. This study was funded by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies.
Conducting Crash Tests
As part of the study, researchers conducted crash tests with rear-facing car seats and looked at how the seats stood up to the impact. The team inspected car seat safety features, such as the anti-rebound bars, and how the carry handle responded to the collision. Overall, researchers found that rear-facing car seats worked as they were designed to, and the results were in line with data from actual rear crashes involving tiny passengers in car seats. Crash forces move from the car seat’s shell toward the vehicle’s seat and then into the vehicle. The main energy of the crash does not center on the car seat occupant.
Head, Neck, and Spinal Support
The rear-facing car seat was created to offer considerable support for the child’s head, neck, and spine. In infants and toddlers, the spine and vertebrae are not fully developed, so this type of protection is essential. The study found that just because the child is facing the direction of the impact does not mean the rear-facing car seat does not provide adequate protection. Because the rear-facing car seat gives the infant or toddler so much support, it can save their lives in the event of a crash. There are situations on record where a parent or other occupant in a car crash suffered fatal injuries, but the infant or toddler in the rear-facing car seat had zero to minor injuries.
Install the Right Seat
As children grow, their car seat needs to change. It is crucial for parents to use the right seat for their child’s size, in terms of their age, weight, and height. A pediatrician may offer recommendations on the correct-sized seat for a child based on that individual’s weight and height. It is also important to follow manufacturer guidelines and contact the manufacturer if you have any questions. Rear-facing seats are recommended for toddlers up to the age of two.
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