Rear-facing car seats provide effective protection for children in rear-end crashes, researchers say.
Previous studies have shown that rear-facing car seats significantly reduce infant and toddler injuries and deaths in front- and side-impact crashes. But there has been little data on rear-end crashes, which represent more than one-quarter of collisions, according to the Ohio State University (OSU) researchers.
In their crash tests with several rear-facing seats, all of the seats were effective when used correctly, the investigators found.
Study lead author Julie Mansfield said parents often express concerns about rear-facing seats.
“Even though the child is facing the direction of the impact, it doesn’t mean that a rear-facing car seat isn’t going to do its job,” she said in a university news release. “It still has lots of different features and mechanisms to absorb that crash energy and protect the child.”
Mansfield is a research engineer in the Injury Biomechanics Research Center at OSU’s Wexner Medical Center.
She emphasized the importance of following recommended guidelines to choose the right seat for a child’s height, weight and age.
“The rear-facing seat is able to support the child’s head, neck and spine, and keep those really vulnerable body regions well protected,” Mansfield explained. “These regions are especially vulnerable in the newborns and younger children whose spine and vertebrae haven’t fused and fully developed yet.”
The report was published in the April 3 issue of the journal SAE International.
Consumer Reports has more on infant and child car seats.