Children up to four years of age would be better protected in cars if they travelled rearward-facing in a suitable child restraint, rather than forward-facing as is the usual practice in most of Europe. Suitable seats are widely used in the Nordic countries, but are not readily available in the rest of Europe. The law and the supply of seats, together with the information for parents, are in urgent need of revision. These are the conclusions of a study commissioned by ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardisation, looking at the lessons to be learned from accidents in the UK, US and Sweden.
A rearward-facing child restraint absorb the collision force over a greater area than a forward facing child restraint. This provides for better safety for the child.
Sweden has the lowest number of children killed in car accidents when compared with all countries reporting to IRTAD (International Road Traffic Accident Database) for the period 2001-2005. It is particularly among the youngest children (0-9 years) that Sweden has a low mortality rate in traffic (see International statistics on children killed in traffic accidents).
For more information see the ANEC press release A Fatal Contradiction-Child safety in cars: A wide gulf has developed between technology and legislation, and The “Swedish Model” Is Recommended in the Nordic Road and Transport Research Journal.