Eli Meir Kaplan for Home Front Communications National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Is Rear Facing Still Safer? A Response to the Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention

Let me begin this post with this: If you are reading this post, yes, rear facing is still the safest way for a child to ride in a vehicle. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, lets get into what this is really about- my phone blowing up with mom friends and past clients alike, all asking the same thing “Is rear facing still safe? What do I do?”

By now you’ve probably seen the video or read the article relased by The Washington Post about the new study that says rear facing children are at a greater risk of hitting their heads during a rear-end crash. If you haven’t, good. I will summarize it quickly. The video shows a Britax rear facing only seat secured by Lower Anchors simulating a rear-end crash. The video continues on to show the infant test dummy being thrown toward the back of the car and hitting their face on the head rest of the vehicle before rebounding back to seat only to come back up one time, but this time not far enough to hit their face. This study was published in the October issue of the Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention while the video has a postmark date of April 2014.

Let’s just get a few things straight here. The study did not conclude that rear facing seats were dangerous, but rather that they could be safer. Child safety advocate and pediatrican “The Car Seat Lady” published an abosutely on point blog about all the problems with this study and how we can continue to keep little ones safe by keeping them rear facing until they out grow their seat limits at which point it is likely they can be safely placed forward facing.

So, instead of talking about statistics and facts here today, I will leave that to The Car Seat Lady because I think she has done such a great job breaking down video, testing facility, and car seat. I will leave you with this: yes, your little one is still better off rear facing. Please do not forward face your child as a result of these studies. And yes, I would be happy to come help you fix your car seat if you’ve already flipped it and would like to flip it back.