Study Reveals that Rear-Facing Car Seats Need Improvement

As a parent, you’re faced with hundreds of decisions regarding your children’s safety and best interests. Hundreds of books and blogs are ready with the “right” answers, and one of the hottest topics of debate is the safest form of car seat. While the consensus from experts for several years now has been that small children should be placed in rear-facing seats, a new study casts doubt on whether these rear-facing seats are as safe as they should be.

An article in the Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention discussed a study of the safety and functioning of rear-facing seats when the vehicle is involved in a rear-end collision, using either the car’s seatbelt to secure the seat, or the seat’s “LATCH” anchors, positioned lower than the seatbelt on the seat. The study found that when the seats pitched forward after a hit from the rear, the infant’s head and neck is thrown into the seat back in front of them. This caused a degree of head trauma that the researchers had not expected. These injuries were found to be more severe where the seat was tied down using the “LATCH” anchors rather than with the seatbelt.

The researchers conducting the study asserted that, while the degree of head trauma they observed in the study was of a higher magnitude than anticipated, that parents should not deviate from using rear-facing seats. While rear-facing seats may be more dangerous in the event of a serious rear-end crash, infants are still much more likely to be injured in a front-end or side impact collision, where rear-facing seats perform well. The researchers did suggest that manufacturers should find alternate, safer ways to ensure that the seats are secured so that pitching forward does not occur. One of the researchers noted that in Sweden, car seats can be secured with an additional tether on the floor of the car, which prevents the seat from flinging the child forward.

Some 12 states currently mandate that children must be in rear-facing seats until they are one year old; three more states extend the requirement to the child’s second birthday. While New York recommends that parents use rear-facing seats for their infant children, New York’s child restraint law requires only that children under eight are restrained using some form of child safety seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be restrained in rear-facing car seats until they are at least two years of age, or until they surpass the car seat’s recommended maximum height and weight when in that position.

For a free consultation on your possible car accident lawsuit when you or your child has been injured, contact the personal injury lawyers at Basch & Keegan, located in Albany and Kingston, New York, at (845) 338-8884.