REARWARD-FACING CHILD CAR SEATS

What is CYBEX’s strategy when it comes to child safety? What was the impetus to look for alternative solutions of child safety which ultimately led to the development of CYBEX Sirona?

CYBEX’s SDF innovation strategy (safety – design – functionality) is to not simply fulfill the norms, but to push boundaries and establish innovations that provide the safest travel solutions for infants and children. For many years CYBEX has been trying to solve the safety issue of Group I car seats and after stringent testing it was clear that forward facing harness systems offer no chance to protect children properly. As such CYBEX has developed a truly safe Group I travel solution, the Sirona, that enables the seat to be used in rearward-facing mode for a longer period and features a safety cushion once turned forward-facing.

Why rearward-facing?

 Toddlers in rearward-facing child seats are five times safer than those riding in forward-facing seats. Latest research conducted by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as well as various accident statistics and long-time studies (e.g. Volvo) around the globe have arrived at this conclusion. Based on research conducted by VTI (Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute), rearward facing car seats reduce the risk of serious or fatal injury in a frontal collision by more than 80% when compared to conventional Group I forward-facing car seats with harness systems. Scandinavian children remain rearward-facing until they are approximately 4 years of age (up to 18 kg), which has resulted in a much lower number of children sustaining injuries and/or child fatalities in car accidents. This is especially prevalent when you compare Group I injury and fatality statistics with countries, such as Germany, where children traditionally travel forward-facing with a 5-point harness system in Group I.

(Source: VTI, 2001 and TU Berlin, 1999)

Rearward-facing car seats have the ability to evenly distribute the forces of an impact over a larger area, therefore dramatically reducing the strain on the developing neck, shoulders and head as well as the inner organs.

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Are rearward-facing car seats safer in an accident?

 The most dangerous car accidents are frontal collisions, followed by side-impact collisions. They represent the accidents where the highest speeds and the greatest forces are at play. When a child is forward-facing and a frontal collision occurs, the child is flung forward in the seat, the child’s head is violently propelled forward while body and shoulders are abruptly restrained by the harness system. This puts severe stress on the still developing neck, the spine, and the internal organs. In a rearward-facing car seat, the child is flung into the backrest of the seat and the force of the impact is distributed along the whole back of the seat. The neck, spine and internal organs are not directly subjected to the stress of the force and are therefore protected. Rearward-facing car seats also provide further protection in a side-impact collision. Crash tests and field experience have both shown that the head of a rearward-facing child is captured by the shell of the restraint system in side and frontal crashes, while that of a forward-facing child may be thrown forward, to the sides and also outside of the confines of the side protectors.

Do experts agree that rearward-facing car seats are safer?

 Yes, experts agree that the use of rearward-facing car seats throughout Group I is much safer for your child. In-fact, consumer safety testing institutes such as ÖAMTC (the Austrian Automobile club), ADAC (the German Automobile Club), TCS (Touring Club Switzerland), AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), the Trygg Trafikk (Norwegian Council for Road Safety) and many more, all support the use of rearward-facing car seats in Group I.

Once a child can sit unaided doesn’t that indicate the right time for them to be turned forward-facing?

Muscle control has nothing to do with whether a child can survive an accident in a forward-facing car seat with harness system. The child‘s spine has not yet fully developed and is still soft. If an accident is to occur it may stretch and snap when the relatively heavy head is propelled forward. When rearward-facing, the child‘s body is caught by the backrest of the car seat, which evenly absorbs and distributes the forces of an impact over the large supported area, protecting the head, neck and back, as well as inner organs. The difference in forces applied to the neck can be compared to a staggering 320 kg when in a forward-facing car seat, with harness system. While when the child is in a rearward-facing car seat the forces applied to the neck are equivalent to less than 100 kg.

(Source: Burdi et al., 1968)

For further information please visit our CYBEX Child Safety Centre:

 …to be continued…

 Stay tuned – CYBEX Sirona – the revolution in child safety – the countdown is on…