Were kids safe in cars 40 years ago?

While talking to other parents about car seat safety one statement often come up: “When I was a child me and my sister were sleeping in the back seat without car seat or seat belt and that worked fine”. Is this true?  Do we really need car seats?  Lets take a closer look at just how safe kids were in 1970.

As I’ve mentioned before, Swedes are boring effective which mean we’re good at keeping track of accidents and statistics.  Amazingly, we started using rear facing car seats in 1965.  In 1970  it was still a new thing and few were using car seats or even seat belts.  We’ve come along way since then and today most parents keep children rear facing to age 4 due to the huge safety benefits.  Are we saving lives by using rear facing car seats?  Y E S!!  We’re saving many lives each year.

In 1970 58 children died between ages 0-6 years in Sweden. Fast forward  to 2007 or 2008 and things look a different. During both 2007 and 2008 only 2 children died each year in traffic accidents in age 0-6 in Sweden. Cars are much safer today but main difference is that children today sit in rear facing car seats with easy rear facing to age 4 or longer.  Difference between 1970 and 2008 is 56 lives saved.  Is that a lot?  I think so but it’s of course a subjective opinion. The quote “A parent should never have to bury their own child” is something which I think we all agree with. (Number refers to all traffic accideents, not only kids in cars.  A toddler being run over on the sidewalk is also included in the fatality and injury stats)

We often look at fatalities but not at serious injuries in children.  In 1970 there were 283 seriously injured children in traffic accidents in Sweden.  In 2007 there were 41 seriously injured kids in age 0-6 years.  Number for 2008 was 54.  Great progress here as well.  We still have work to do but parents are doing a great job.

What happens in a crash at the very low speed of 30 km/h (19 mph) wearing no seat belts?  Please look at the clip below and note what object is thrown through the front window. Don’t forget, colliding at 30 km/h is the same force as dropping your child head first into the ground from a 3rd floor balcony.

[youtube width=”580″ height=”450″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orDM8tCn9pY[/youtube]

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