Frontal impacts in traffic accidents are much more frequent than we think. In 2017, the General Directorate of Traffic recorded that 4.8% of the accidents that occurred that year were caused by a frontal impact while 20% were lateral and fronto-lateral accidents.
In these cases, the risk of injury and the probability of death is greater, especially in the case of children, who are a very vulnerable group. The good news is that using a rear-facing child restraint system can prevent child deaths and greatly reduce the risk of injury to your little ones.
Why is it important for young children to ride rear facing?
Children have very poorly developed neck muscles. To this is added that the smaller they are, the greater the proportion of the head with respect to the rest of the body, as in the case of babies, whose head can represent up to 25% of the body. This means they are more vulnerable to head and neck injuries in the event of an accident, even if they are traveling at low speeds. In these cases, a slight braking can produce an extension in the vertebrae of up to 5 centimeters. Hotels in Formentera to go with children.
However, if the child travels in the rear, the consequences of a sudden stop or collision will reduce the risk of injury and, in the event of damage, it will be less serious. According to a study carried out by the World Health Organization, carrying a child in the right car seat, properly installed and facing forwards, can reduce the risk of injury during an accident by 50%. However, this risk is reduced to 80% in the event that the little ones travel in the rear.
This was confirmed by another study carried out by the Royal Automobile Club of Spain in which the effectiveness of child restraint systems placed in the direction of travel and in the opposite direction was compared. In this case, forward-facing children were found to have three times the risk of head injuries and neck and abdominal strains than rear-facing children.
This is because when children travel rear facing, the forces caused by a sudden stop or crash are better distributed through the neck, shoulders and back, while the back of the seat also absorbs a large part of those forces. As a result, the damage is considerably reduced and, if it occurs, it affects less the area of the neck and the head of the little ones. Map of the rivers of Spain.
Until when is it recommended to travel rear facing, according to the i-size regulations?
The ECE R44/04 regulation, which regulated the use of child restraint systems according to the weight and age of the children, established the use of rear-facing seats for children between 0 and 13 kilos in groups 0 and 0 +. However, although rearward facing was recommended whenever possible, it was accepted that children in group I, between 9 and 18 kilos, could travel in both directions. These indications have changed with the i-size regulation.
Unlike the recommendations of the ECE R44/04, the R129 or i-size regulation requires the compulsory placement in rearward facing up to 15 months of age of all child restraint systems designed for children up to 105 centimeters and with Isofix anchorage . However, although it is no longer mandatory at this age, it is recommended to travel rear facing for at least 4 years. At this age, although children are still very vulnerable, their necks have gained stability and their heads are much more proportional to the rest of their bodies.
Travel rear facing, preferably in the rear seats
Rear-facing is critical to reducing the risk of injury to children, but it’s not the only safety measure parents should consider. Article 117 of the General Traffic Regulations, which regulates seat belts and other approved child restraint systems, states that children with a height equal to or less than 135 centimeters must always travel in the rear seats of the vehicle.
Exceptionally, they may only occupy the front seat in the following cases and, provided that approved child restraint systems are used, duly adapted to their size and weight:
- When the vehicle does not have rear seats.
- When all the rear seats are already occupied by other minor children or with the same characteristics.
- When it is not possible to install all child restraint systems on said seats.
However, it is important to bear in mind that, if they occupy the front seats and the vehicle has a front airbag, they can only ride in this seat with a rear-facing child restraint system, if the airbag has been deactivated.
What are the advantages of traveling in the back seat? According to the General Directorate of Traffic, sitting in the back seats is a protective factor against injuries, while reducing the risk of death in a traffic accident.
This was confirmed by a study carried out at the Queensland University of Technology in which it was found that children under 4 who traveled in the front seat had twice the risk of dying in an accident than when they traveled in the back. This risk increased to almost four times in those under 1 year of age. Also, the risk of serious injury was reduced by 60% when children were in the rear seats.
Obviously, it is also important that the child protection system is approved and properly installed, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and preferably using the Isofix system. Under no circumstances should the children’s heads protrude above the back of the restraint system as this would pose an added risk in the event of an accident. Likewise, the use of an adult seat belt is not recommended for children under 150 centimeters.