Best Car Safety Seat Positioning for Children
Prior to March 2011, parents in the United States were advised to keep their child’s car seat rear-facing at least until the child weighed 20 pounds and turned 1 year old, at which point the car seat might safely be turned around to face forward during travel. That prevailing guideline changed when the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new recommendation that the position of car seats should be kept rear-facing until the child is 2 years old.
A 2007 study published in the journal Injury Prevention, “Car Safety Seats for Children: Rear Facing for Best Protection,” examined National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 1988 to 2003 and, after controlling for variables, focused on 870 crashes involving children ages 2 and under.
The study’s findings include:
- For all ages studied, rear-facing car seats proved 15% more effective in preventing moderate to severe injuries than did forward-facing seats. Rear-facing seats were effective in 93% of cases compared to 78% for forward-facing seats.
- For children 12 to 23 months old, rear-facing prevented moderate to severe injury in 86% of cases, while forward-facing seats were effective in 69% of cases.
- One unexpected finding was that rear-facing seats had significant benefits over forward-facing seats even in side impact crashes. This is likely because many side impacts are not purely lateral and have forward components.
The study’s authors recommend that infants should be kept in rear-facing seats until age 2 in order to “take maximum advantage of car seat protection.” They also note that many models of rear-facing car seats are not made to accommodate heavier toddlers, so manufacturers may need to adjust their seat designs to support children through their second birthday.
Tags: cars, children, consumer affairs, parenting, safety, parenting
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
Read the Injury Prevention study "Car Safety Seats for Children: Rear Facing for Best Protection."
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the issue-related USA Today article "Getting Out of Car Seats a Snap for Clever Kids."
- If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.