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.”