Rear-Facing Car Seats Save Lives

Armen Hareyan's picture

Car Seats

Groundbreaking research can improve the safety of young children in vehicles. According to an article published in the December issue of Injury Prevention, during the second year of life children are five times less likely to die or sustain serious injuries when they ride in rear-facing car seats compared to forward-facing car seats. This research applies to all types of crashes including side impact which are typically the most severe.

Dr. Marilyn Bull, medical director and founder of the Automotive Safety Program and Kohl's Center for Safe Transportation of Children at Riley Hospital for Children, co-authored the article in the prestigious medical journal.


"This is the most exciting and significant research to emerge regarding car seat safety in recent years," Dr. Bull said. "It is essential that we communicate this message to all families to ensure our children are riding as safely as possible."

Preliminary results from a statewide survey conducted in Indiana in 2007 revealed that 85 percent of infants under age one are riding rear-facing in car seats, but only 7 percent of children in the second year of life are placed in their car safety seats facing the rear.

Previously, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had recommended that infants ride rear-facing in car seats until they are at least one-year-old and 20 pounds before being turned forward-facing in their car seats. This research will undoubtedly change that official recommendation.

"Armed with the information we now have, it is imperative for parents to keep their children rear-facing in car seats longer," Dr. Bull said. "Children are much better protected in rear-facing car seats. Many models of car seats allow children to ride rear-facing from 30 to 35 pounds."

When infants approach 18 pounds or their head is within an inch of the top of their infant only car seat (between 4 and 10 months of age for most children), parents should make plans to transfer the child to a rear-facing convertible car safety seat.