Why Rear Facing?
“A rear-facing child seat reduces the risk of injury in a head-on collision by more than 80% when compared to a conventional forward-facing seat with harness system, as the force of an impact is distributed evenly over a large area.”
- VTI – Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute (Rapport 489A, 2003)
The reason to rear face is simple, it’s safer.
Kids Travelling Safer
In order to understand the safety benefits of rear facing, it is important to see the difference in the forces of a car crash on a child in a front facing versus a rear facing car seat. This frontal car crash video shows this difference in forces: click here to view.
Car seats are categorised based on the regulation that they were approved under. The old regulation ECE R44 has 5 groups and is based on weight.
ECE R44 weight groups
Group 0: Up to 10 kg (22lbs)
|Up to 6 months|
Group 0+: Up to 13 kg (29lbs)
|Up to 12 / 15 months|
Group 1: 9 – 18 kg (20lbs - 40lbs)
|9 months to 4 years|
Group 2: 15 – 25 kg (33lbs - 55lbs)
|From 4 years|
Group 3: 22 – 36 kg (48lbs - 79lbs)
|From 6 years|
The new regulation R129 i-Size is based on height not weight with two categories: Birth to 105 cms and Booster seats from 100 cms to 150 cms height limit. Although seats approved under R129 i-Size (i-Size seats) are grouped by height they do also have a weight restriction. Rear facing until 15 months is a legal requirement in i-Size car seats.
Choosing a rear facing car seat. When the Group 0 and Group 0+ baby infant seat is outgrown there are several options:
The first is a Group 1, 2 extended rear facing (ERF) car seat. This is a rear facing only car seat, which allows rear facing from 9 to 25kg. This is approximately from 6 months to 6 years depending on weight and height of your child.
The second option is a rear and forward facing seat. This option includes seats approved under the old ECE R44 and the new R129 i-Size regulations.
An i-Size seat has been approved under Regulation R129. This regulation makes it mandatory to rear face until 15 months in an i-Size seat. In terms of rear facing there are i-Size approved Group 0 and Group 0+ baby infant seats and Group 1 seats. The i-Size seats in the Group 1 category can be used rearfacing until a maximum height of 105 cms and the weight restrictions differ from seat to seat but the average is 18 kg, which is approximately 4 years. These seats will be fitted with ISOFIX.
Some of the i-Size seats will be a combination seat, Group 0 – 1. They can be used from birth to 105cms but need to remain fitted in the vehicle, unlike a baby infant seat.
Seats approved under R44 in this option can be used for rear facing to 18kg. The majority of these seats can be used both rear facing and forward facing. Rearfacing.ie recommends rear facing for as long as possible.
The third option is a multi group seat. These seats will allow use from birth to 36kg, depending on the seat, with rear facing to 18 kg (approximately 4 years) in most of these seats.
Brand Information: For information on the brands that rearfacing.ie stock click here
|Why choose Rearfacing.ie?|
|Rear Facing Advocate & User of ERF Car Seats|
|IOSH Child Car Seat Certified Training & Car Seat Brand Training completed|
|Online Sales of Rear Facing & Extended Rear Facing Car Seats|
|Website Provides broad Information on Rear Facing|
|Consultation Prior to Purchase & Installation Support|
|Customer Service after purchase: Irish company based in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry|
|Brand selection based on Safety, Quality Standards and Usability|
|Courier Delivery to maintain car seat integrity|
Car Crashes: Why Rear Facing Is Safer?
Children are not just small adults; their bodies are still developing and those developmental changes make them more vulnerable than an adult.
In a child’s spine the vertebrae are connected via cartilage rather than bone as they have not completely fused to form the protective spinal column present in adults. It is the spinal column that protects the spinal cord and due to the cartilage, a child’s spine is hypermobile and flexible.
Additionally, a child’s immature spine must support a larger head compared to an adult’s developed spine. The average nine month old child’s head is 25% of its body weight compared to an adult’s head being only 6% of its body weight.
The relatively large head mass and differences in the anatomy of the cervical spine in young children can lead to excessive stretching or even transection of the spinal cord if a child is involved in a frontal (head-on) crash while in a forward facing car seat.
During a crash, occupants will travel towards the point of impact. When a child is forward facing in a 50km/h frontal accident, the force of the crash pushes the head forward at 180-300kg and thrusts the neck, arms and legs forward while the harness holds the child’s underdeveloped rib cage in the seat. In crash tests, the neck of the crash test dummy has been stretched as much as 2 inches. However the spine cannot be stretched more than a quarter of an inch before transecting/snapping. This in conjunction with force of the car crash can lead to catastrophic injuries, internal organs damage, paralysis or even death. This is one of the main risks associated with using forward facing car seats.
In a rear facing car seat the force of the frontal accident is only 40-80kg and spread evenly along a much greater area. The child’s back, neck and head are protected by the rear facing car seat’s back because it absorbs the impact and the rear facing car seat helps to hold the neck and spine in line.
A child’s spinal development and head size has been likened by medical professionals to that of an apple on a stem. This difference in development and proportion only increases the need to protect the spine of a child.
Benjamin Hoffman is a Professor of Pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine in Portland and a child injury prevention specialist. He states that:
“Younger children tend to have relatively bigger heads, weaker necks and muscles in general and looser tendon and ligaments. Facing forward, the head and neck are thrown forward violently in a crash and the same forces that can lead to whiplash in an adult can actually cause the spine of a young child to separate and injure the spinal cord.”
A 2009 study by BMJ (British Medical Journal), titled Advise use of rear facing child car seats for children under 4 years old, investigated why it is safer for children under 4 to travel in rear facing car seats. The study included analysing prior research on rear versus forward facing and had the following recommendations:
Rear facing seats are safer than forward facing seats for children under 4 years old. Excessive stretching or even transection of the spinal cord can result if a child is involved in a head-on crash while in a forward facing car seat. Parents and guardians should be advised to keep young children in rear facing seats for as long as possible. Healthcare professionals should advise that rear facing seats are safer than forward facing seats for children aged under 4 years.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children remain in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible; until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat (August, 2018). Previously, the AAP specified children should remain rear-facing at least to age 2; the new recommendation removes the specific age milestone. The AAP stated that there is not a large enough set of data to determine with certainty at what age it is safest to turn children to be forward-facing and that keeping your child rear-facing as long as possible is the best way to keep them safe.
Further research published in 2017 in the BMJ in Injury Prevention re-evaluated the American National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS) database and included data from 1988 to 2015. It concluded that Non-US field data and laboratory tests support the recommendation that children be rear facing for as long as possible.
Car Seat manufacturer Joie also recommends rear facing for longer based on their consultation with doctors and child safety experts worldwide to better understand the effects of a car crash on a child’s growing body. Joie carried out Internal ECE testing in 2015 with Q1.5 dummies. Based on performance averages of all Joie rearward and forward facing car seats, the testing found that rear facing versus forward facing, there was 70% less risk of head injury, 73% less tension on the neck and 34% less rotational force. The Joie campaign for rear facing incorporates the slogan “Look Back Longer. Because every rearward day is a safer day”.