Study: Are rear-facing car seats safe in rear-end crashes?

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Front and side impacts have been extensively researched, but rear impacts are rarely studied

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Experts know that rear-facing car seats protect infants and toddlers in front and side impact crashes, but they are rarely discussed when it comes to rear-impact collisions. Because rear-impact crashes account for more than 25% of all accidents, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center conducted a new study to explore the effectiveness of rear-facing car seats in this scenario.

“It’s a question that parents ask me a lot, and I love it when they do,” said Julie Mansfield, lead author of the study and research engineer at Ohio State College of Medicine’s Injury Biomechanics Research Center. “It shows that they’re really thinking about where these impacts are coming from.”

Mansfield and her team studied multiple rear-facing car seats, investigating the effects of various features including carry handle position and anti-rebound bars. The study found that when used correctly, all were effective because they absorbed crash forces while controlling the motion of the child, making rear-facing car seats a good choice in this scenario.

“Even though the child is facing the direction of the impact, it doesn’t mean that a rear-facing car seat isn’t going to do its job,” said Mansfield. “It still has lots of different features and mechanisms to absorb that crash energy and protect the child.”

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