Quotes from experts

"On behalf of ANEC - the European consumer voice in standardisation - we have studied accidents in the UK, Sweden and the United States involving children in child seats and have particularly looked at situations in which the children have been seriously injured or killed. We are in no doubt that the very safest way to carry children up to 4 years of age is rearward facing. In Scandinavia, they have used large rearward facing seats for many years and have convincing accident evidence that they do a good job. There are accident examples in all three countries of situations where children have suffered needless injuries whilst in their forward facing child seats. It is time to learn from the Nordic experience and for all parents to seek out suitable rear facing seats for their children until they are around 4 years old. Manufacturers, shops and legislators need to be active in making it easier and cheaper for parents to find and buy the safest form of restraint. It is crazy that the best seats are not readily available throughout Europe."

Dr. Peter Gloyns and James Roberts, Directors, Vehicle Safety Consultancy Ltd., UK

"Compared with an adult, a baby’s head is four times as heavy in relation to the rest of the body. A baby’s neck is not sufficiently developed to hold its head up. A baby therefore needs extra support and protection in the head and neck region. In a collision, a safety belt that goes across the stomach can cause injuries to the liver, kidneys and spleen. The belt must be designed to go over the child’s hip region, or as a Y-belt with a strap between the child’s legs.

In side-on collisions the risk of injury is proportionally greater than in collisions from the front or back. Nevertheless, it is only recently that intensive research has been carried out into side-on collisions. Nowadays children’s car seats are available with effective reinforcements in the sides, which have been crash tested over and beyond the requirements for ECE approval. Children’s car seats in advanced designs, which are made to withstand these collisions, are often reinforced with metal.

It can be dangerous to move about in traffic. All the same, we need to do so for practical reasons. Then it is necessary to give our children the very best protection possible. Up to the age of four years, it should be taken for granted that they travel facing rearwards in specially designed children’s seats. The reasons are very simple: A forward-facing seat increases safety by 50%, while in a rearward-facing seat, safety is increased by 90-95%! As parents, we carry the main responsibility for our children’s safety. We must protect them as well as we can, in traffic too, and make sure that everyone in the car is restrained."

Inggard Lereim, Professor, Doctor of Medicine and Chairman of the Nordic Traffic Medicine Association

"In Sweden the authorities have campaigned for 25 years for children in cars to sit in special rearward-facing seats. The reason is that we want to avoid injuries to the head and neck region. The child’s head is very heavy compared with the rest of the body. A nine-month-old baby’s head comprises 25% of its total body weight, while in an adult the head weighs 6%. In a collision, the child’s neck is subjected to a proportionally higher strain. In a rearward-facing seat, the force of a collision is distributed optimally over the child’s head and back. Over a million rearward-facing seats are in use in Sweden, and we do not know of any cases where a child in a rearward-facing car seat has been seriously injured in a frontal collision. Swedish accident research has shown that rearward facing children’s car seats reduce serious injuries by 92%, while the forward-facing seats only reduce injury by 60%. In the last few years the rest of Europe has also become aware of this. A number of cases are known in which children have been totally paralysed as a result of neck injuries while using forward-facing seats."

Thomas Turbell, VTI (Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute)

"RoSPA agree that it is safer to carry children rearward facing, although forward facing seats are designed and tested to European Standards (ECE R44.03 or R44.04), and should not be deemed 'unsafe'.

The larger Swedish seats comply with European Standards and so you can use one if you import it, or bring one to the UK, although you should be certain that it fits safely and securely in your car – as child seats provide much less protection if it has been accidentally fitted wrongly or is incompatible with the car"

Duncan Vernon, Road Safety manager (England), ROSPA

"Do you think your child is worth as much as three or four tankfuls of petrol? Of course you do. Of course you believe that everyone in the car should be restrained with approved safety equipment.

Children’s safety in the car costs a little but means a lot. Traffic injuries are often permanent, but many of them can be prevented using safety equipment. Think about that before you set off in the car – it is your choice and your responsibility!

The cost is no excuse in matters of restraining children safely in the car. There is no shortage of safe children’s seats either. There is a wide range of safety equipment. Product information that complies with European requirements and standards will help you make the right choice."

Leif Agnar Ellevset, Trygg Traffik (Norwegian 'Safe Traffic' Organisation)