According to new
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines, children should stay in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible
in order to avoid injury in the event of a
car accident. The guidelines echo the updated recommendations recently published by
the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Both recommend parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats
until age 2 or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their
seat. In addition, children should ride in booster seat until they have
reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
The recent changes were prompted by a growing body of research that suggests
that children are safer in rear-facing seats.
“A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting
the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it
distributes the force of the collision over the entire body,” stated
Dr. Dennis Durbin, lead author of the APA policy statement and accompanying
technical report. “For larger children, a forward-facing seat with
a harness is safer than a booster, and a belt-positioning booster seat
provides better protection than a seat belt alone until the seat belt
Since motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children
under four years old, parents should be sure to follow the latest safety
guidelines and make sure all car seats are properly installed.