According to the American Academy of Pediatric, in the Pediatricsmedical journal, children under 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are in a rear-facing child restraint. Originally the suggestion was to turn them after one year.
The group also recommends that children remain in a seat with a five-point safety harness as long as possible and should only transition to a booster seat that relies on the car’s adult seat belts when children exceeds the height and weight limit for the five-point harness.
Although the number of small children killed in motor vehicle crashes has decreased substantially — dropping 45 percent between 1997 and 2009 (under the age of 16) — car crashes are still the leading cause of death for children ages 4 and older. If you count children and teens up to age 21, there are more than 5,000 deaths each year.
The new guidelines are “a fantastic step,” says Jennifer Hoekstra, who coordinates a child safety program at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Hoekstra says parents of toddlers under age 2 who already are using forward-facing seats shouldn’t panic, because forward-facing seats still provide good protection.
“If you are using your forward-facing car seat correctly, your child is safe,” Hoekstra says. But 73% of car seats are installed incorrectly, according to a 2005 study in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.
When researchers at the emergency room of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia looked at children between the ages of 1 and 4 hurt in wrecks, leg injuries were rare for those in rear-facing seats, but they were the second most common injury for those in forward-facing seats. Between the injuries and the saved lives, this sounds like a change that will make a difference.
Here are some other posts we have had on these issues: