Rear-facing car seats perform well in rear-end crashes, new Ohio State study finds

A new OSU study found rear-facing car seats, when properly installed , are effective in rear-end crashes. (WSYX/ WTTE)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) - Rear-facing car seats, when properly installed, are effective in rear-end crashes, Ohio State University researchers said in a new safety study released Tuesday.

“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 Julie Mansfield with Ohio State College of Medicine’s Injury Biomechanics Research Center. "It still has lots of different features and mechanisms to absorb that crash energy and protect the child.”

Mansfield and her team performed crash tests with multiple rear-facing car seats, according to the university, and found all the seats were effective in absorbing the force of the crash and controlling the child.

OSU said rear-facing car seats also have been shown to greatly reduce injuries and deaths in frontal and side-impact crashes.

Parents need to follow the recommended guidelines on the correct type of car seat for their child’s height, weight and age, Mansfield said.

“The rear-facing seat is able to support the child’s head, neck and spine and keep those really vulnerable body regions well protected. These regions are especially vulnerable in the newborns and younger children whose spine and vertebrae haven’t fused and fully developed yet,” said Mansfield.

Certified staff members will check your family's car seat(s) at Columbus Public Health and at a variety of fire stations across Franklin County. A complete list of locations and phone numbers to schedule an appointment can be found on the City of Columbus' website.

Parents should replace car seats after a moderate or severe crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Safety advocates with the non-profit Seats for Littles, Inc. recommend new car seats after even a minor crash. Insurance companies will often pay replacement costs.

The OSU study was funded by the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, according to the university.

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