Laws are continuously evolving to be consistent with the rapidly growing and changing wheeling of our society. Not long ago, seat belts were not mandatory to wear but now, not wearing your seat belt can land you a fine. Some of us may even be old enough to remember a day when a large group of people could squeeze in a car - a bit like a clown car! - regardless of the number of seats legally available just to make the journey together. This is now a thing of the past as well and it is a punishable offense. Should we say that our society is more insecure than before? Of course not. I suppose we turn to be more cherished of life than before and pay more attention to "absolute safety" that is great progress. In the same way, laws around cars and car safety are continuously evolving.
Originally, there were no specific requirements for children's safety. There were tests made by independent companies, such as automobile companies, but there wasn't a legal requirement for children's car safety. In recent times, children's seats were made compulsory for small toddlers.
A recent change in legislation, for the better protection of the population, is rear-facing child seats. Ever since the 1960s, Volvo, who are renowned for their safety features, ran tests which showed that rear-facing car seats lessen the impact on a small child during a potential car crash, especially in head on collision. Then in the 70’s they actually began production of rearward facing child seats.
But this is just one car manufacturer’s journey. As editor from Autofun.co.id claims that most car brands are satisfied with getting by offering just enough safety features as required by law. This is why legislation needs to evolve continuously - because best practice does not ensure it is put in practice.
The current legislation is to keep children under the age of 2 in a rear-facing car seat. If the child reaches more than 40 pounds or 40 inches before the age of 2, parents can turn the car seats to a forward-facing position.
Even more, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation is to keep children in a rear-facing seat even up to the ages 3-5. This is because, in the early years, a child’s bones are still developing. The weight of the head is disproportionately high in toddlers as compared to adults. In the event of an accident, especially head-on collision, having the child sit facing the back could save their life as their bone structure and musculature are simply not strong enough to support their head and neck.
In the event of an accident, the most vulnerable parts which could be injured are the spine, neck, and head. But if the crash is strong enough it could even lead to further damage such as a broken hip or leg. Some believe that the fact that the child is facing the rear seat would mean they could suffer additional injuries as a result of the impact. Contrary to that belief, the back seat actually acts as a cushion and absorbs some of the impacts of the crash.
Check out this short video which explains why small children need to be in rear-facing seats and what difference it would make in a potential car crash if they were forward or rear-facing:
But parents are complaining that these accidents are rare occurrences. Instead, they find that keeping children in a rear-facing seat leads to the child feeling car sick or crying. They believe that having the child facing forward helps them interact and also makes the child feel like they are part of the journey.
Some parents choose to ignore the law and turn the seats forward if they think it will make the car ride easier for everyone. Depending on which state you live in, the fines can start at a few tens of dollars and can go as high as several hundreds of dollars.
Choosing the right rear-facing car seat can be one of the biggest purchases you make as a young parent. Especially if you intend to use them for future children, it’s best to buy one quality seat and ensure it will be there for years to come.
First, you may need to accept that this will be a costly purchase, and child safety should not be an area where you try to save money! Secondly, go with verified tests rather than brand reputation. Nowadays, there are crash test results available online for you to verify. Don’t just go with the top seller on Amazon!
Verify the size of your car vs the size of the seat to ensure it fits in comfortably. In order to extend the use, you get out of the product you could buy a convertible seat that you can use both rear-facing as well as front-facing. This is good planning for when your child grows up and is also useful if you have multiple children.
At the time of the initial purchase, check how the child fits inside the seat. The height of the child should comfortably reach the shoulder strap so they can be securely strapped in. The fit should be quite snug all around, without going over the borders of the seat. This is because you want to avoid too much sudden movement in the event of an accident.
In conclusion, there is no getting around it. Rear-facing child car seats are here to stay. And it’s a good thing too because they ensure your child is protected to a higher standard than in a regular forward-facing seat in the event of an accident, as the backseat absorbs some of the impacts of the crash.
Some parents complain that accidents are rare and what actually happens more frequently in practice is that the children prefer to ride forward-facing and will sometimes get car sick if they ride facing backward. Some even “cheat” by turning the seat around if their child is causing too much of a fuss. However, newly introduced laws can land you a fine if found breaking the law!