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Results from a recent poll, commissioned by Volvo UK, have found that almost three-quarters of parents are still uncertain which way round is the safest to seat young children in the car.
The research showed that 74 per cent of people with children under the age of 4 owned a front-facing child car seat, even though the risk of death or serious brain or spinal injury was up to five times higher than with a rear-facing seat.
Official government guidelines encourage parents to keep children in rear-facing seats until they are 13kg (around 9 months old), but this is now being revised and a new Europe-wode safety standard called i-Size is now stipulating that new car seats should keep children facing the rear for at least the first 15 months of their lives.
In Sweden, the norm is to keep small children in a rear facing car seat up to the age of 4, and this has been credited as a contributing factor to no children under the age of six being killed in a car accident throughout 2013, and only 10 children serious injured.
In comparison, during the same period in the UK, there were 77 deaths and serious injuries among child occupants under four-years of age, which amounts to more than one per week.
Results from the survey revealed 71 per cent of parents questioned admitted they changed their child to a front-facing seat before he or she was 18 months old, with 35 per cent changing the seat when their little one was between 9 and 12 months, and some even earlier than this. Only 3 per cent waited until their child was at least 3 years old before changing to a rear-facing seat.
One of the main reasons parents gave was because their child had outgrown their rear-facing seat, with many admitting they bought their first car seat to suit their newborn as opposed to their child’ needs in his or her toddler years.
Interestingly, less than half of the parents questioned felt they’d made an informed buying decision, and after being informed of the safety benefits of rear-facing seats, 72 per cent said they would have been more likely to choose one if given a second opportunity.
Neil Addley, managing director of Trusted Dealers said: “I think it’s important that the Government promotes this message more loudly as, like most parents, we switched to front-facing seats well before the children were 3 or 4 years old.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the peer group pressure older children exert in getting away from booster seats. ”
Professor Lotta Jakobsson, senior technical specialist for injury prevention at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, said: “We strongly recommend everyone to have a rear-facing child seat for their young children. All children should travel rear-faced until the age of three, and preferably four. The differences in anatomy between adults and children are profound.”
Would you keep your child in a rear-facing car seat up until the age of 3 or 4? Why not share with us your thoughts below.