The best way for children to travel in child restraint systems is rear-facing. By law, children are obliged to travel in the back seat of the car apart from three exceptions envisaged in the law (as described in the article `How the new law on child car seats affects you´), and up to the age of at least 15 months the child seat must be rear-facing.And this is recommended up to 4 years of age.
It is advisable to use rear-facing seats for as long as the childs anatomy will allow, as children under the age of four suffer from much more serious injuries to the neck and head because their musculature is not yet fully developed. However, the real-life situation is very different and once this mandatory period of 15 months has passed parents are quick to put their children in the usual forward-facing position.
There are many reasons for this early changeover in the direction of the child seat and one of the main ones is quite simply that the law does not force parents to do otherwise after a certain age. We need to understand that despite the fact that there is no law making it obligatory to use rear-facing seats after the age of 15 months, we ourselves can extend this period by several months provided that the child is comfortable, particularly while their bones and muscles are still growing and becoming stronger.
Another reason that is cited for changing the seat direction is that there are no approved rear-facing child seats on the market for children over the age of 15 months. This is a very widespread yet unfounded belief as there are several models on the Spanish market with this capacity. They may not be featured in the catalogs of major department stores or other similar establishments, but it is definitely possible to find these models online.
Fundación MAPFRE recommends that children use rear-facing seats wherever possible as it has been demonstrated that they are much safer.
This position gives children greater protection for the head and neck in a collision situation than if they were facing forward. In the event of a collision, a child under the age of four in a front-facing seat is much more likely to suffer injuries to these two delicate areas than in a rear-facing seat. In fact, putting children in rear-facing seats can reduce the risk of serious injury by up to 80%.
In this respect, the recommendation is to use a CRS with i-Size certification which guarantees that all rear-facing seats can be used up to at least 15 months of age.
The mejor #acontramarcha#(better rear-facing) initiative
To help raise peoples awareness about the significant safety improvements of maintaining the use of rear-facing child seats for as long as possible, and the improvements to the safety and protection of small children, a private initiative has been set up on the social networks identified by the hashtag #acontramarcha (better rear-facing) which aims to provide as much information as possible in this respect.
The awareness-raising campaign #niunpequemasenpeligro and #acontramarcha to promote rear-facing child seats for the longest possible time has had an excellent impact on the social networks to the extent of becoming a trending topic on Twitter. Its number one objective is to disseminate the advantages of rear-facing child seats and the reasons why children should use them for as long as possible.
The ‘Study on child car seats’ carried out by Fundación MAPFRE examines the importance of putting small children in rear-facing child seats, up to what age children should face the other way, and what the different international bodies have to say in this respect.
We also recommend you read the articles `DGT: backward-facing child seats’ and ‘Is it right to position child seats facing backwards?’ and our infographic: `How to secure a child in a child seat´