No children died in traffic accidents last year in Norway and buckling all children in rear facing car seats until four years of age was a big reason why.
Read more about how they keep their children so safe in the car.
Norway has a lot to be proud of as 2019 marked the first year of zero recorded deaths by traffic accidents for children under the age of 10. This is the continuation of a positive trend that has been occuring there for the last 30 years.
In the USA motor vehicle deaths are sadly still a leading cause of death among children. Many of these deaths can be prevented as nearly 35% of children who die in motor vehicle crashes are not even buckled up. In addition over 115,000 children are injured each year in car accidents.
Norway can teach us a lot about keeping our children safe in the car. The Norwegian country has lower speed limits on its road than you would see in America. They also have aggressively removed on street parking to make roads safer and create more room for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The most important thing that Norway has done to improve child safety in vehicles is require that all children are buckled in a rear facing car seat until the age of four. Keeping a child buckled in a rear facing car seat until age four is the law in Norway and the country has worked hard to educate parents on the importance of rear facing car seats.
This extended rear facing provides parents a safer alternative than forward facing car seats. Children in rear facing car seats absorb impact across the entire back of the seat during a car accident, compared to front facing seats where only the harness is holding them in place. With some American parents still turning children around as young as 1 year old and as small as 20lbs it is important to look at what Norway has accomplished eliminating child vehicle deaths.
Current guidance from the AAP recommends parents keep children rear facing as long as possible, until they reach the height or weight allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Most every currently available child restraint system has weight limits for rear facing use that can accommodate children up to 35 or 40 lbs. All the seats on our top rated car seats list can secure children up to age 4. The car seats aren’t the problem, it is how parents use them.
Many parents acquiesce to nagging children who want to sit forward facing. Kids will often want to sit forward facing because it is more comfortable for them or because it makes them feel older and more like their big siblings riding beside them. Parents need to understand that moving a child to a forward facing car seat before the age of four increases the risk of injury in a motor vehicle accident.
Norway has a lot to be proud of by cutting child motor vehicle deaths to zero. America should learn valuable lessons from our Norwegian friends and work to better educate parents about the benefits of extended rear facing car seats. Kids might cry or complain as you buckle them into their rear facing car seat but parents can drive down the road knowing that they have made the safest choice possible for their child.