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Are Rear-Facing Child Seats Dangerous in Rear-End Accidents?

Virginia auto accident attorneyIn Virginia, children under the age of eight have to be restrained in child safety seats. The same law applies in Washington D.C. and in Maryland. These three jurisdictions do not specify whether the child safety seat has to be rear-facing or has to be front facing. However, twelve states do require rear-facing car seats until at least age one and three states mandate rear-facing car seats until the age of two. These mandates aim to ensure parents follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has suggested the use of rear-facing car seats until a child is at least two years of age.

Unfortunately, new studies suggest the commonly-used rear-facing car seats could actually create a risk for kids when rear-end accidents happen. The problem: kids in rear-facing car seats could end up hitting their head on the car seat when the vehicle is rear-ended. NDTV reported on the study which alerted parent to the potential risks of rear-facing car seats in rear-end accidents.

Kids In Rear-Facing Car Seats Could Face Rear-End Accident Risks

The warning about the dangers of head injuries in rear-end accidents came in the Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention. The research showed a crash test dummy which was the cause of an infant registered "serious head injuries when its rear-facing car seat pitched forward - toward the back of the vehicle- in rear-end crash tests."

Children were at the biggest risk of a severe head injury in a rear-facing car seat when the car seat was attached to the lower LATCH anchors on the vehicle, as opposed to when the car seat was attached to the vehicle via a seatbelt.

A biomedical engineer suggested the results were not surprising because basic physics suggests a child could hit his head on a rear-facing car seat in a rear-end crash. However, the engineer was surprised at the magnitude of the head strikes and indicated "we didn't think it was that bad."

While the dangers of rear-facing car seats in rear-end crashes are significant, the problem is this type of car seat still remains the best option for protecting kids in other kinds of auto accidents. This is partly why rear-facing car seats are so highly recommended. Front-facing crashes account for 43 percent of all injuries sustained by children in car seats while rear-end crashes account for nine percent of injuries kids sustain in car seats. Since children are more likely to be harmed by a front-facing crash and rear-facing car seats can better protect them during this type of accident, parents should generally opt to use rear-facing seats.

Car seat manufacturers, however, should take heed of the troubling results showing the risk of head injuries and should begin taking steps to try to make rear-facing car seats safer in the event a rear-end collision occurs.

If you have been harmed, contact Davis, Davis, Davis & Davis, PC today at 866-434-1581 or visit to schedule a consultation.  Serving Roanoke, Rocky Mount, Franklin County and Southwest Virginia.  

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