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OSU Researchers Studying Effectiveness Of Rear-Facing Car Seats In Rear-Impact Crashes

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Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
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Julie Mansfield straps a doll into a car seat. Rear-facing car seats are known to protect children in front and side impact crashes, but are rarely discussed in terms of rear-impact collisions.

Experts agree that rear-facing car seats offer the best protection for young children in front and side impact crashes. 

Ohio State University researchers studied their effectiveness in rear-impact collisions. Mike Foley reports on the findings.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing car seat until the age of 2 or when they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the safety seat’s manufacturer. But how safe are the seats when the impact originates from the back of the vehicle? It’s a question Ohio State research engineer Julie Mansfield hears a lot from parents. She led a study on the topic at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

“What we found aligns really well with what we know from crash data in the real world. Rear-facing car seats protected very well in this crash condition. We did look at some different features of the different seats, but they all performed really well. Even though the child is facing the direction of the impact, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this rear-facing car seat isn’t going to do its job. It still has lots of different features and mechanisms to absorb that crash energy and protect the child.”

According to estimates, rear-impact crashes account for more than 25% of accidents. Mansfield says it’s important that parents and care providers follow the recommended guidelines on the right type of car seat for their child’s height, weight and age. The study has been published in SAE International.    

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience.