Why is rear facing safer?

Why would you rear face? 

Baby’s first journey will be in a Group 0, or 0+ rear facing car seat which is designed for newborns right up until 10-13kg.  This is because it is widely acknowledged that rear facing is safer for a baby.  What happens when they outgrow this seat?  In the UK it is typical to turn a child around and buy a front facing seat.  However it is five times safer to rear face!  

In Scandinavia children are kept rear facing until they are about 25kg (4-6 years old).  This has resulted in a much lower number of children injured or killed compared to the UK.  Between July 2006 and November 2007 not a single child under the age of 6 years old was killed in a car crash in Sweden (Source: VTI Sweden). According to the AA’s website, 205 children are injured in car crashes in the UK every year and 21 are killed.

By using extended rear facing group 1 car seats many children could be saved.


Why is rear facing safer?

The most common and most dangerous accidents are frontal collisions.  These accidents have the highest speeds and highest forces involved and the most vulnerable person in an accident is a child. When a child is forward facing they are flung forward and the harness catches their torso.  

Children have different proportions to an adult, and their head can weigh as much as 25% of their total body weight unlike an adult, which is usually around 6%.  This is important because in an accident their head is thrown forward and is only stopped by their still developing neck and spine, which is much weaker than an adults consequently it does not have adequate strength to stop this causing damage.  When their body is stopped by a harness, the internal organs as well as the head carry on forward which can injure a child’s neck, internal organs such as heart and spleen and ribs.  The child’s soft spine can stretch or even snap causing internal decapitation.

Please take a look at this video:


In even a low speed accident at 32mph (50 kph) the forces acting upon a child’s neck can be roughly 320kg, which is the equivalent of the weight of 4 average adult men.  Can you imagine the damage caused by this horrific tug of war?  In tests a dummy’s neck has stretched up to 5cm, however a human spine cannot stretch more than 1cm before snapping!  

In a rear facing seat, a child is flung back into the back of the seat and the accident forces are distributed along the whole of the back of the seat.  The neck, spine, internal organs and ribs are not subjected to a large direct force and are therefore much better protected.  In fact in a rear facing seat the forces involved are much less at up to 50kg and a child is 5 times less likely to be injured.  


Aren’t all seats equally safe, because they have been tested and approved to the same ECE R44.03/R44.04 standard?

Although all seats have to pass the ECE R44 test, the test currently focuses on child body parts impacting the vehicle and does not look at neck or internal organs forces.  This means that car seats that are designed simply to pass this test may not have tested the forces on the head, neck and organs of a child.  Consequently there may be large differences in performance between two seats by different manufacturers even though they have both passed the test.


Why dont we already rear face in the UK?

This is a good question.  Primarily the manufacturers dont think the large retailers want them, and the large retailers dont think the public want them.  Thanks to specialist retailers rear facing is getting more popular all over the world and even in the UK, however we are way behind Scandinavian countries.  In fact many well known high street brands that sell front facing seats in the UK also sell rear facing seats abroad where they advertise them as safer than front facing.  Shockingly some are even made in the UK but then exported to keep european children safe rather than be sold here.

Things are slowly changing, a new regulation on child-restraint systems by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Working Party on Secondary Safety recommends mandatory rear-facing transport of children up to 15 months of age.  However it may take a few years for the UK lawmakers to adopt that policy.

In any case you can rear face now!  Ensure your children are as safe as possible by investing in a rear facing group 1 car seat for them.  Good quality retailers such as Mama Chic will provide you with a selection of suitable car seats based on your circumstances, will ensure it fits in your vehicle safely, and will ensure that you know how to fit and adjust it.  We even provide telephone support and instructional videos so that you can be confident in your child’s safety.


What do the experts think?

Experts such as the British Medical Journal, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and trusted consumer organisations such as Which? Magazine recommend and are promoting rear facing safety http://www.which.co.uk/baby-and-child/baby-transport/guides/how-to-fit-a-child-car-seat/rear-facing-child-car-seats/

For expert quotes please see Rearfacing.co.uk Expert Quotes

This is great, but where can i find impartial information?

Completely independent infornation on rear facing car seats and why they are safer is available at www.rearfacing.co.uk