A British safety blogger has shared a graphic photo of the damage a seatbelt can do in a car accident in a bid to persuade more parents to use rear-facing car seats for as long as possible with their kids.
The photo shows a woman with severe bruising across her neck and chest. "This is what a seat belt injury looks like on an adult – who was correctly secured in the car and had a frontal collision," wrote Therese, who is known as The ERF Mama (Extended Rear Facing Mama) online.
"You can see clear trauma to the muscles and tissue of the breast as well as some minor lacerations to the neck from the seat belt burning into you on impact."
Therese, who blogs at 'A Rear Facing Family', says the photo shows parents why high-back booster seats are only suitable for older kids, not for preschoolers and toddlers.
"This was an adult – imagine this type of an injury or worse on a child," she writes.
"Turning forward facing is not a milestone to look forward to. The differences in safety between forward facing and rear facing are too great. Don't be in a hurry.
"My intent was to show what type of injury you can get by the seat belt alone – and why you would want to wait as long as possible before you changed to the adult seat belt on the children when there are other options available that are safer."
Her advice echoes the Kidsafe Child Restrain Guidelines, which recommends that children are kept rear facing for as long as possible. "Infants are safest if they remain in their rear facing restraint as long as they still fit in their rear facing restraint. While the law allows children over 6 months to use either a rear facing restraint or a forward facing restraint, the rear facing restraint offers better protection as long as the child fits in it."
The reason rear facing seats are especially effective for young children all comes down to physiology, as Kidsafe explains:
"Rear facing restraints are highly effective in preventing injuries if used correctly, because they fully support the child's head and neck in the event of a crash. This is important as infants have relatively large heads and weak necks which put them at particularly high risk of serious injuries if the head and neck are not supported.
"Rearward facing restraints support the child's head and neck in severe frontal crashes better than forward-facing restraints."
The post also clarifies that adults should always wear seatbelts. "Everyone needs to wear a seat belt - that is a given fact! Seat belts saves lives!"