Most parents do everything they can to keep their children safe from harm but there can be danger even when travelling in the family car, caused by a lack of awareness about in-car child safety.

Supported by the company’s comprehensive safety studies, Volvo has produced a handy guide to keep children safe while on the road. 'Children In Cars' is full of helpful tips and advice for anyone who travels with children.

Sit Up, Belt Up

Six out of 10 parents don’t buckle their children in properly. They are unaware of how to fit the diagonal section of a seatbelt correctly (not too far out on the shoulder and never under the arm) and not sure how to fit a lap belt (across the tops of the legs, never across a child’s stomach).

Using a standard seat belt provides 60% better protection than no restraint at all but using a forward facing child seat or booster cushion provides 80% better protection whilst a rearward facing child seat is 90% better.

Face The Back Facts

Quite simply, sitting facing the rear is the safest way to travel for any of us, but especially for children. Babies and children are fragile passengers as their heads are big and heavy in relation to the rest of the body (25% of total weight), and have thinner skulls, underdeveloped necks, pelvis and vertebrae compared to adults.

In the event of an impact using a rearward facing child seat, the whole of the child’s back takes the impact, rather than its much more vulnerable neck.

There is a five times greater risk of fatality or serious injury for children in forward-facing seats.

Babies and toddlers should be rearward facing up until at least the age of three and preferably longer. Currently, only 1 in 4 three year olds use rearward facing seats. Rearward facing seats should only be used in the front passenger seat if the car has no, or a disabled, passenger airbag.

Getting Better

The good news is that from 1976 – 2000, there has been a marked improvement in child car safety. In Sweden, the use of seatbelts and car seats, particularly rearward facing child seats has risen from 25% to almost 100%. As a result, occurrences of injuries of Maximal Abbreviated Injury Scale scoring 2 or above (on a scale of 1 to 6, where 6 is most severe) are now a fifth of what they were 20 years ago.

Parents and parents-to-be can download the Children In Cars safety guide from the Volvo website at

Published : 04/08/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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