Last Update November 12th, 2016 I have been asked on several occasions whether or not rear facing would really be safe if you were to be rear ended. My response up until now has been that frontal and side impact crashes are the most fatal accidents, and that serious rear impact accidents are not very common. Therefore the child is best protected being in rear facing convertible car seats for as long as possible, in the most common types of accidents.
Why Rear Facing Car Seats are Safer
The statistics are on our side, According to Crashtest.Com, frontal and frontal offset crashes combine for about 72% of all crashes. Side impacts are about 24%. Rear and rear offset crashes only account for about 4%. The odds of being in a serious frontal crash are many times greater than being in a rear-ender.
However, it does happen and people have always asked “what if I was seriously rear ended with my baby rear facing?” Well, I now have an answer for you!
Meet Eliza, she was born June 28, 2004.
Eliza, rear facing at 16 months old in a Britax Marathon.
Eliza has always been pretty small, and at 16 months old had just barely hit 20lbs. However, lucky for Eliza she had a Mom who did her research. She knew how much safer rear facing was, and even after the Pediatrician told her she could turn Eliza forward facing she didn’t. She planned to keep Eliza rear facing until the 33lb weight limit on her Britax Marathon.
Eliza rear facing and sleeping in her Britax Marathon.
The morning of November 5 when this picture was taken Kevin was wearing his favorite shirt and necklace. It was just before a game so they were in their Buckeye gear. Little did they know when they set out on a drive later that day that the shirt and necklace would end up being cut off of him.
While driving with 8 year old Kevin and 16 month old Eliza they encountered a traffic jam on the freeway. Mom saw this in plenty of time and slowed down and stopped accordingly. That is the last thing Mom or Kevin remember before waking up in the ambulance. Apparently the person behind her did not see the stopped traffic, and rear ended their stopped Dodge Stratus going 65MPH.
Eliza was in her Marathon rear facing in the back.
They removed the seat from the passenger side backseat first before moving her.
I think if any rear end accident tested the safety of rear facing it was this one. Eliza escaped with only marks on her shoulders from the harness. Kevin and Mom are quite banged up, bruises, etc. Here is Mom’s account of what happened.
“The kids and I were involved in a car accident last night. Other than being ouchy and bruised, we’re pretty much OK.
I was on the freeway when the cars all in front of me were stopped and traffic was backed up. I noticed this in plenty of time, so I slowed down and stopped normally.
That’s the last thing I remember until I woke up in the ambulance.
Apparently, in between there, someone hit us from behind going from 60-65 mph. I’ve heard “Your car is pretty messed up.” and “Your trunk is pretty much in the back seat of your car.”
When I woke up in the ambulance all I could think about was the kids. I wanted to know if they were OK and where they were. I was being transferred to the hospital and they were being transferred to the Children’s Hospital. I was told that they seemed to be OK and that I needed to concentrate on me.
I get the shivers every time I talk about the accident. I’m shaking now.
Anyhow, I was checked out. CT scans and x-rays. I was released. They called a cab for me to be taken to Children’s Hospital.
I had the nurse call grandma to have her go be with the kids. Apparently when she got there, they were treating Kevin but Eliza was at the nurses station drinking apple juice and eating cheerios with the nurse. She has a couple small marks on her shoulder/neck area from the straps, but nothing else. Nothing. She was up running around at 1:30 am before they released Kevin.
Kevin is about in the same shape I am. Bruises and sore. They are having him wear a neck brace for 5-7 days, just to be on the safe side. They said his CT scan was clear, but kids’ necks are so small that they like to have them wear it on the small occurrence that the CT scan missed something.
When I got to the hospital, Kevin was sleeping and we had to wake him up to get him eat something and walk a bit before they’d release him.
His nose is bruised and swollen and he has bruising under both eyes. He doesn’t remember much about the actual accident either…so I guess that’s a blessing.
We haven’t been able to get a copy of the accident report yet, so we dont know anything about the other driver, if s/he has insurance…who was the first on the scene…who called 911 for us?
When I talked to the insurance lady today and told her that we had been hit while at a complete stop and the other driver was going about 65 mph, she said she was surprised she was actually talking to me. Wow.
I’m so thankful that I always make my kids buckle up. I’m so thankful that even though Eliza is 1 year old and 20 pounds that I have her rear facing. I’m so thankful that we spent the extra money and bought a Britax.
N.B The Britax is one of the best convertible car seats that you can buy.
I’m so thankful that besides a few bruises and sore spots, we’re all OK. We’re all alive.”