Road safety team backs mum’s campaign

12.00 | 20 February 2013 | | 5 comments

A mother’s call for parents to keep children in rear-facing child car seats for much longer has been endorsed by Norfolk’s road safety team.

Michelle O’Donnell, a mum of three from King’s Lynn, claims that most parents are completely unaware of the extra protection they can give their child by keeping them facing rearwards in the car for longer.

Michelle admits that she was shocked to find out that she had unwittingly been putting her older children at risk, and was determined not to make the same mistake for her youngest, aged 3.

Most parents in the UK move their children into forward facing seats at around nine months old, but the norm in Scandinavian countries is to stay rear-facing until four years old – a practice that is advocated by the British Medical Journal.

Michelle said: “Young children are five times safer when rearwards facing in the car. My mission is to give every parent out there the same information that made me choose a rear-facing seat when looking for a second child seat for my son.

“A friend told me about the idea of keeping him rear-facing for longer. Once I knew the facts I had to buy another rear facing seat.”

Michelle is being supported in her campaign by Norfolk County Council’s Casualty Reduction Section.

Iain Temperton, team manager, said: “Michelle is passionate about the safety of children in cars and that is a subject that concerns us all; a large proportion of Norfolk’s child casualties occur in cars, rather than as pedestrians or cyclists. It is essential that parents are able to make well informed decisions when choosing child seats and I admire Michelle’s commitment to providing this invaluable message.”

Alec Byrne, chairman of the Norfolk Casualty Reduction Partnership, said: “I wholeheartedly support Michelle in her drive to spread the message that young children are better protected in a rear-facing car seat. I am sure that other parents will be convinced by a mother who has nothing but the best interests of children at heart.”

For more information contact Michelle O’Donnell on 07736 299059 or Iain Temperton on 01603 223359.


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    New parents are bombarded with all sorts of conflicting advice and social and media pressures; often quick to condemn parents but slow to empower and support them. There is too much emphasis on “freedom of expression and development of the child’s individuality” at too young an age when the first essentials should be to set clear boundaries and rules of safety and behaviour. The more esoteric elements can only be developed on a safe, sound foundation so these basics must come first. We should all be helping and supporting young parents to do the best for their children not adding to the criticism they already suffer. This initiative is one example of doing exactly that. Good on them.

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Duncan – what a sorry state we live in if a parent cannot exercise their will over a stroppy toddler. The child is simply told that this is the way things will be, and that is the end of the matter. What chance have parents got if they allow children to decide over what happens to them in any and every situation?

    David, Suffolk
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    So far the fact that the majority of UK parents forward face their babies is due to the information that we are given which is 40 yrs behind the Swedes who are the world leaders in car safety. It has been proved beyond any doubt that anyone, be it a child or adult, will always come off better when rear facing, look at the injury and death stats of the survivors of the Hatfield rail crash, the people with the less serious injuries were then ones who faced the rear.

    My 3 yr old , my friends 4 yr old ( who forward faced until recently) and many other children I know of have never moaned about the direction of travel. It is a parent’s opinion that a child will not like it, or will be bored, or uncomfortable etc, the children are all more than happy and unless the driven car doesn’t have windows a child will have a very good and interesting view.

    This subject should not be a debate, but one of re-educating ourselves so that we can learn from the mountains of data that already exists and put our children in the safest positions possible.

    Michelle, norfolk
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I was going to mention the troop carrying planes but Duncan has already done that.
    Having seen the reconstruction, by North Wales Constabulary, of a crash where a baby died but would likely have survived if their seat had been rear facing, I can only agree with the article.

    David Midmer Grade 6 ADI and Fleet Trainer, Wirral
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Military troop transport aeroplanes have all the seats facing rearwards as it is by far the safest way of carrying people. This is not true in commercial transports because the operators cannot ‘sell’ rear facing seats even though ‘safety’ is a big thing in aviation.

    A similar situation occurs with baby buggies where expert opinion agrees the toddler is best carried facing backwards towards its Mum. The toddlers have different ideas however and would much prefer to be facing forward so they can see what’s happening around them.

    I would suggest that this campaign is doomed to fail for the same reasons as it will be the youngsters that will make a huge fuss until their Mums turn them around to face forwards.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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