On Saturday I got a text message from a friend tasking me for advice on car seats for their baby. Car seat safety is an issue I am very passionate about and I believe it is something that needs to be talked about MORE. So I decided that today I would post an email I sent to many of my friends this time last year, after being in a car accident.
6th April, 2010
Sol and I were recently in a car accident and this made me totally reassess his carseat situation. (We were fine, but both cars are written off). The shock at how easily a lovely sunny day could have turned so awful scared me. I spent a lot of time researching a replacement car seat. Frankly, I was horrified at what I discovered.
The current popular practice in NZ, Australia & the USA is that children rear-face until they are a year old. In following this ‘rule’, it was a lovely milestone for us when Sol started forward-facing at a year. I had no idea that in doing so, he was 75% more likely to be injured or killed if we were in an accident. Why? – mainly because the weight of the head in comparison to the body is so much higher in young children, and in a head-on collision children who are forward facing are likely to suffer from 'internal decapitation' of the head. In contrast, when a child is rear-facing, the whole body — head, neck, and torso — is cradled by the back of the safety seat in a frontal crash. The odds of severe injury to a forward-facing child are five times greater than a child in a rear-facing seat.
Our child restraint laws and recommendations are woefully inadequate. In Scandinavia many children are rear-facing until they start school. After researching this issue, I had no option but to get a seat that allowed Sol to rear-face as long as possible, hopefully until he is 4 years old.
The main comment I have got from people is “Oh, my child would HATE to go back to rear-facing” – I said exactly the same. As have most other parents I have spoken to about it. The funny thing is, I have not heard of one child who cared at all! I got Sol a big mirror, he was chuffed and couldn’t care less whether he faced forward or backward.
There has been quite a lot of media coverage in NZ regarding child safety restraints, after some horrific accidents over Easter. Campbell Live featured this issue this evening. The other important message from this is that car seat belts do not fit properly until children are 148cm tall – this means some 75% of nine and ten year olds still need to be in booster seats.
All young children should be rear-facing - if you need any more convincing, I highly recommend you view the videos of these crash test dummies (the crash test dummies part is at about 1min28). And here and here for information from NZ sites.
All I hope is that this email may make some people consider having their child rear-facing for longer. And that this in turn may save an injury/death. I would love you to forward this message to anyone you know with young children.
With love, Rachel
- Last month I was delighted to hear that the USA has revised their child car seat restraint guidelines so that children should now rear-face until they are two years old, children should be in boosters until they are 8 - 12 years and no children should sit in the front seat until they are 13 years old. This news clip is an excellent overview of these guideline changes and the reasons behind them.
- One year on, Sol turns three later this month and is still happily rear-facing...
- This article about a New Zealand two-year old in an car accident has a compelling comment at the end regarding rear-facing.
12/4/2011 09:16:19 am
Thanks for caring Rach :)
29/4/2011 05:11:09 pm
Just letting you know the situation in Aust is not so good. This is the current law: Infants up to six months old to be restrained in an approved rearward facing infant restraint (Infant capsule or child safety seat).
15/9/2011 06:04:24 am
15/9/2011 07:09:11 am
Hi Laura - I ended up going with a Sunshine Kids Radian - http://www.skjp.com/. It cost NZ$450, which seemed like a lot, but I figure if there is one accessory to spend money on - it's a car seat! I really really like it - seems very comfy, it easy to install, doesn't take up much space (quite narrow) and folds up so is easy to transport. Would definitely recommend it! Sol is now 3yr5mth and is still fine rear-facing.
2/5/2012 01:41:19 pm
A rear facing seat is much better for young kids of 3-5 years of age. Their body and head are to soft for any injuries and in case of any accident they may suffer serious injuries and might collapse.
25/5/2012 11:06:45 am
We’ve always been sticking with you around the net all the working week, either that or we have now identical choices since I am been reading many of the incredibly same content. Best wishes!
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
Rachel is a writer and educator whose fields of interest include sexuality education, gender, feminism and youth development.