According to the New York State Department of Health, approximately 520 babies from newborn to one-year-old are treated in New York State hospitals for injuries in car accidents but are immediately released. Of those 520 infants, around 15 are actually admitted to the hospital for their injuries every year. Child car seats are generally credited with keeping very young babies safe in accident situations, but some experts are starting to re-think the ways that rear-facing seats are used.
The Unintended Results Of A New Study
In October 2015, the Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention published a study about rear-facing car safety seats that was summarized in the Washington Post. According to the study, rear facing child car seats do not do enough to protect babies in the event of a rear-end collision. The resulting data collected from crash test dummies showed that the motion of a rear-facing car seat could cause serious physical damage to a child if the vehicle that child is in is hit from the rear.
While many car seat manufacturers and governments around the world find the study interesting, most are not concerned by those results for a variety of reasons. For one thing, rear-end collisions only account for approximately nine percent of all automobile crashes, so the data would apply to only a small portion of accident victims. The other issue experts have with the study is that it was done using 30 MPH speeds, which is uncommonly fast for rear-end collisions.
The data in this study has not caused the United States to re-think its position on rear-facing car seats. But it has brought up the discussion as to the age of children in rear-facing car seats and how parents may be turning their children around too early.
One Year May Not Be Long Enough
According to the New York Times, Sweden has the lowest automobile fatality rate among children in the world and that country mandates that children be in rear-facing child car seats until they are four years old. Most countries, including the United States, recommend that children be in booster seats until they are at least eight years old.
In the United States, many parents celebrate their baby’s first birthday by turning the baby around into a front-facing seat. But advocates in the United States insist that children should be in rear-facing seats until they are at least two. The data from this latest study is making it difficult for parents to accept the two-year-old threshold.
The Dangers Of Rear-End Collisions
A further reading of the study published in the Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention shows that 15 percent of children age one year or younger who were in rear-end collisions between 2005 and 2009 died of their injuries. The study also mentions that rear-end crashes are largely fatal to children because the seat is often consumed by the crash and the child is unable to survive.
Are children in rear-facing car seats more prone to head injuries? According to the study, rear-end collisions do present a serious risk of head injuries for children because of the rear-facing orientation of their seats. But since the number of rear-end collisions is low compared to front or side impacts, parents are encouraged to keep their children in rear-facing seats as long as possible.
A car accident involving a child can be a difficult thing for a parent to handle. Babies cannot speak for themselves, which means their injuries could go undetected for years. A good personal injury attorney will know what questions to ask of medical professionals and know how to handle insurance claims for auto accidents that involved babies.