Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rearward or forward - that is the question.

Three years ago a dear friend of mine lay in a coma for thirty-nine days with a severe head injury, internal injuries and multiple broken bones.  He and his family had been hit head on by a truck that had crossed the centre line on a sharp bend, with the trailer fish-tailing as the driver tried to correct the fully laden load in wet conditions.  His wife suffered a head injury and broken arm, ribs and shoulder.  In the back of their vehicle had been their two sons, sitting in and saved by their booster seats.  Their story helped shape child car safety in New Zealand.  I am so very grateful that they all survived; they were lucky.  I was very proud to be selected to become a BRITAX Mumbassador recently and I want to share their new safety campaign with you regarding rearward facing car seats for younger children; although my friend's children were older at the time of the accident, since then I have been acutely aware of car safety and the safety of our children, no matter their age.

Now I remember my first car trip with N; she was barely 2 weeks old and we were travelling from Glasgow through to Edinburgh for my mum's birthday.  Buckled in to her rearward facing car seat, I hated not being able to see her when I turned round, fearing that she had choked or stopped breathing, that perhaps I hadn't strapped her in properly.  A mirror proved to be the simple solution - I could see her smiling at me or sleeping soundly.  Roll on ten months and I loved moving her to a forward facing seat and she loved it too; suddenly she was able to see the world passing by, I was able to see her and -reluctant as I am to admit this - it was so much easier to pop the dummy in...

Ten to twelve months is a common time to move your baby from a rearward facing to a forward facing car seat, but this is not the case across the world with rearward facing travel being recommended as being safer, directing crash forces more evenly in the event of a collision and protecting their vulnerable necks.  I couldn't imagine either of my children being comfortable in a rearward facing seat any longer than they were, their long legs bent up against the back seat; nor do I think I could have managed the worry of not being able to see their faces during long trips.  However, given that their safety is of the uttermost importance to me and not wanting to risk their precious lives, if a rearward facing seat had been available at that time and the evidence that exists now was made public, I would have no hesitation in buying a rearward facing seat.  It's a simple decision really - a rearward facing seat could safe the life of a child, just as the booster seats saved my friend's sons.


Below I share some information from BRITAX regarding their new safety campaign and if you want to find out more about the rearward facing car seats please go to the BRITAX site; if you want help choosing the right seat or the answers to frequently asked questions, it's the place to go.

There is an on-going debate about which is the safest way for your child to travel in a car, forward facing or rearward facing.  It can be incredibly confusing for parents and whilst safety is of paramount importance when choosing a car seat, we here at BRITAX know that every family is unique and has different concerns and practicalities to consider. 
Recently there has been a significant surge in popularity of rearward facing seats for children up to the age of four.  This is already the norm for parents and families in Scandinavian countries and recently the American Academy of Paediatrics changed their recommendations to say all children should remain rearward facing until the age of two years. 

Rearwad Facing - Facts

There is no doubt that rearward facing seats offer the best protection in the event of frontal collisions.  These are extremely serious and the most frequent types of accidents on the roads*.  BRITAX believes that parents should sit children rearward facing for as long as it is realistic for their child, car and family’s lifestyle and wholeheartedly supports the new Europe-wide initiative called ‘i-Size’ which dictates a child must be seated in an ISOFIX fitted, rearward facing car seat until the age of at least 15 months. 
However, it is important to state that safety cannot be defined simply by the direction a child is travelling in the car and is influenced by several factors, including the angle of the crash impact, the correct installation of the car seat, which car seat is compatible with your car and how many children you may have to accommodate on the back seats."
* Henary B, et al.  Car safety seats for children: rear facing for best protection. Injury Prevention 2007; 13:398-402.

Images from Britax

Disclaimer - I have been asked to be a BRITAX Mumbassador - a unique and exciting community of parenting bloggers who work closely with BRITAX to review their products, discuss topical parenting issues and to share fun family experiences with!  I have received no fees for this post but have written it because I believe in keeping our children safe.

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