Sweden is leading the way in keeping babies and young children safe whilst travelling in a car by using rear-facing child seats until the age of four.
This allows the impact of the most common car accidents, those in which passengers are thrown forward in their seats, to be spread throughout the child’s spine rather than concentrated on the neck area.
So should UK rear-facing child seats be used for a longer time to protect our children?
Accident research figures reveal that Sweden’s policy of using rear-facing child seats in cars is paying off in terms of serious and fatal injuries in the 1-4 age group. Generally, Swedish people use these car seats for much longer than many Europeans, who tend to revert to a forward-facing seat once their child reaches the age of 12 months.
This is beginning to change in the UK however, as manufacturers realise the significant decrease in the number of injuries sustained in the most common types of road accident, when using rear-facing car seats for children.
A firm who knows all about the aftermath of car accidents is Accident Advice Helpline. A spokesperson from the law firm said,
“Hopefully these research figures will be just what’s needed to encourage manufacturers to make rear-facing car seats the norm for older children. We deal with too many neck injury claims involving children under 4, who have been properly restrained in the car, but in a forward-facing seat rather than facing rearwards.”
Although adults can withstand the force of being propelled forward in a collision, the problem for a young child lies in their delicate neck area, which is not capable of dealing with this extreme force. The answer seems to lie in the rear-facing seat position, as the force of the impact is then distributed throughout their back rather than just in the neck area.
On their website, Car Safety Rules illustrated the huge difference in the number of fatalities between Sweden and Germany over a 5-year period,
“While German accident data shows a significant peak in the number of one year-olds killed, with 37 fatalities over a five year period, none died in Sweden.”
The figures speak for themselves, and it is hoped that more manufacturers in the UK take note of these impressive road safety statistics from Sweden, so that we can follow suit.
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Source: The Economist
Date Published: October 16, 2013
Author: David Brown