Rear-Facing Seats Best for Kids, Study Shows
According to drive.com.au, the study found that small children were safer when placed in rear-facing seats than on forward-facing ones, as the head, neck and spine are kept more aligned, and the force in case of a crash is distributed more evenly across those areas.
"Parents and guardians should be advised to keep young children in rear facing seats for as long as possible," the two researchers concluded. "Excessive stretching or even transection (cutting) of the spinal cord can result if a child is involved in a head-on crash while in a forward facing car seat."
Watson and Monteiro analyzed every existing data on car seats, including the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s vehicle crash database and data from Sweden. This information helped them find out that in many cases, young children would have been better protected if placed in a rear-facing car seat.
The team has simulated crash tests using dummies which also showed that rear-facing seats are more effective in preventing neck and chest injuries. After they published their study results in the British Medical Journal Online, they also found out that many parents were unaware of even the existence of the rear-facing seats for toddlers.
Therefore, the researchers called on the manufacturers and retailers to increase production of rear-facing seats for toddlers and also to focus more on the availability of the ones for older children. Moreover, they requested the change of the current weight range of European seats, which now suggests that both forward an rear facing car seats are equally safe for kids over 9 kg.