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Rear-facing car seats: Why they are important

Parents today are inundated with information about the safety of car seats and how to safely travel with your child in a vehicle. While Colorado law requires that infants under the age of 1 and infants who weigh less than 20 pounds rear-face in their car seats, medical experts and child safety professionals are encouraging parents to continue rear-facing their children for much longer.

How long should you continue to face your child facing the rear?

The law requires that children in Colorado face backward in a car seat until they are at least 1 year old, or at least 20 pounds. Once they have met those requirements, they legally can face forward in a car. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continue to find that it is safer for children to rear-face for as long as possible. It is recommended that parents wait until their child is at least 2 before they begin facing forward in their car seat, as this can significantly decrease their risk of injury or death should they be involved in a car accident. Studies and data continue to show, however, that it is still beneficial to keep children rear-facing until they outgrow their rear-facing car seat. This means that many children can, and should, be rear-facing until they are nearly 3 or 4 years old. 

The benefits of rear-facing car seats

Rear-facing is not always convenient for parents, particularly when their children get older and larger. They may start to resist getting into their car seat, or they may start to complain that they want to see the front of the car like the rest of the other passengers. It is important to push away the temptation to flip your child forward-facing simply because it will be more convenient, because there are many benefits to keeping your child rear-facing in their car seat for as long as possible. Some of those benefits include:

  • Rear-facing car seats provide your child's developing body with better support. The fact of the matter is, even adults would be safer in vehicles if they were rear-facing. However, the adult body is more developed than that of a child, and therefore can better withstand the impact of a crash. Young children are still developing rapidly, and their bones are more flexible. In particular, their heads are much larger than their necks, and will snap forward more easily and harshly than an adult's head. By rear-facing, the child's body is better supported and ultimately, better protected.
  • Rear-facing significantly reduces the impact of a crash on your child. In the event of an accident, a child who is in a rear-facing car seat will not fly forward in the same way that someone who is forward-facing will. This means that the child is less likely to suffer from severe or life-threatening injuries, and is far less likely to be killed in an accident.  

What you need to do if your child is injured in a car accident

Even if your child is rear-facing in a car seat, there is still a risk that they may be injured in a car accident. However, in most cases, the injury will be far less significant than if your child had been in a forward-facing seat. If you or your child are injured in an accident, you will want to seek medical care immediately. After getting the care that you need, you will want to contact a personal injury attorney who can advocate for you.

Ultimately, as long as your child meets the requirements outlined by Colorado law, the choice is yours as to when you begin to face your children forward in the car. It is important, however, that you consider the safety recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and that you also discuss your decision with your own pediatrician.

To learn more about car seat safety and what you need to do in the event of a car accident while children are in the car, contact our personal injury law firm today in order to set up a consultation appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.

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