Researchers from University of Buffalo who recently studied crash-related fatalities in relation to seat location have determined that the back seat is 59 to 86 percent safer than the front seat in a car. We parents may not have known the exact figures, but of course we know the back seat is safer than the front seat for children – that’s why car seats go in the back. But exactly where in the back should your child’s car seat or booster seat go?
In the middle. Who knew?!
I’m fairly certain that when my daughter was born in 2005 we were strongly advised against putting a car seat in the middle of the back, so I’m kind of surprised at this change. But it tuns out that “the middle seat is 25 percent safer than the window seats in the back,” according to esurance, who reviewed the UB study. (Yes, esurance, the car insurance company that used to have the goofy cartoon commercials. esurance is now a subsidiary of Allstate.)
The folks at esurance say, “The middle seat offers the most distance from impact during a collision (sometimes referred to as crumple zone). So if you get hit at an intersection, the outer seat will take more of a direct hit, while the middle seat remains relatively insulated.”
Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend “that all children under the age of 13 ride in the back — ideally in the center.” (The AAP found that children in the rear center seat are 43 percent less likely to be injured than children in rear window seats.) Take note, says esurance, that “the middle car seat is only safest if a full seat belt (rather than just a lap belt) is used. So if you’re driving an older car without a full, 3-point seat belt, your children are better off sitting in a back window seat.” I suppose that’s why back in 2005 the center seat wasn’t the recommended spot. It wasn’t until 2007 that all new cars sold in the US were required to have a 3-point seat belt for the rear center seat. (Thank you, Wikipedia!)
I’m super concerned about car safety, so I’ll be moving my daughter’s booster seat to the middle rear and will ask her father to do the same in his car. What about you?