A Lynn mother’s call for parents to keep children in rear-facing child car seats for much longer has been endorsed by road safety experts.
Mother-of-three Michelle O’Donnell believes most parents are completely unaware of the extra protection they can give their child by keeping them facing rearwards in the car for longer.
She admitted that she was shocked to find out that she had unwittingly been putting her older children – Emily, now 12, Oliver, 7 – at risk, and was determined not to make the same mistake for Danny, 3.
In this country most parents move their children in to forward facing seats at around nine months old, but the norm in Scandinavian countries is to stay rear facing until four years of age, a practice that is advocated by the British Medical Journal.
“Young children are five times safer when rearwards facing in the car,” said Michelle, explaining her passion for spreading the life-saving message.
“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 Danny.
“A friend told me about the idea of keeping him rear facing for longer. I spent the whole evening on the internet researching the subject.
“Once I knew the facts I had to buy another rear facing seat. I just think that if we were involved in a crash and I didn’t know about it beforehand I would be heartbroken and angry that I hadn’t been given the vital safety information needed to save his life.
“If we had a crash and I hadn’t acted upon my knowledge I would never, ever forgive myself.”
Michelle is being supported in her campaign by Norfolk County Council’s casualty reduction section.
Team manager Iain Temperton 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.”
Parents can find further information on this subject at www.rearfacing.co.uk.