Volvo Cars Recommends Kids to Travel Rearward Facing

By: Glady Reign

Volvo Cars, the company famed for its safety initiatives and innovations, recommends that small children should travel in rearward facing child restraints for as long as possible - at least until they are three to four years old. Older children, on the other hand, are advised to use a booster cushion until they are 140 centimeters tall and at least ten years old.

The Swedish automaker's recommendation is based on real life accidents blended with advanced research at Volvo Cars' state-of-the-art crash laboratory. Volvo is absorbed in finding new ways to reduce road injuries - this is why it is focusing on safety development. For four decades now, the automaker is studying child safety as part of its philosophy.

Volvo started researching child safety in the early 1960's. This was a time when space journeys were hot news. On the black and white TV screen you could see the astronauts lying on their backs to even out the forces during take-off and landing. Using the entire back to spread the forces was incorporated in the first child restraint prototype, which was tested in 1964. Since then, Volvo Cars has been setting the standard in child safety.

Volvo's founders Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson said, "Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo therefore, is - and must remain - safety." And the philosophy still stands up to the present time. Since its inception, the automaker has launched numerous safety milestones like , three-safety belt, airbags, seatbelt with pretensioners, rearward facing child restraint, and other remarkable equipment.

"Our first rearward facing child restraint was launched back in 1972," said Lotta Jakobsson, the Child Safety Specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Centre. Volvo has also been a driving force in international cooperations such as the making of the ISOFIX standard. The latter is a standardized anchoring system that makes it easier to fit a child restraint correctly in any car equipped with the system.

In 1970, the Volvo Traffic Accident Research Team was established to study car crashes in Sweden linked to newer Volvo models. Since then, the team has studied about 2,500 traffic accidents down to the smallest detail. Based on the accident research, the team develops new safety technologies. Information from more than 36,000 accidents is stored in a statistical database. The Side-Impact Protection System (SIPS) and the Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) are direct results of this accident research.

"Our engineers identify interesting areas, develop solutions and incorporate them in the oncoming Volvo model," said Jakobsson. "When that model is out on the streets, the research of real life car crashes continues to help decide which areas to focus on in next generation. It is a continuous process."

Volvo's studies and statistical database that include more than 4,500 children revealed that a child in a rearward facing child seat is approximately 90 percent less likely to be injured in an accident compared to an unrestrained child. The studies also found that using a booster cushion, the child runs an approximately 75 percent lower risk of being injured compared to being unrestrained.

"All children must always be restrained properly. They should travel facing the rear until at least the age of three-four and use restraints for older children up to 10-12 years of age," said Jakobsson. Using a booster cushion, integrated or accessory, with the lap belt pulled tight prevents the body from riding underneath the safety belt and forward in a collision, she added.

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