Rear seat safer: seating position, restraint use and injuries in children in traffic crashes in Victoria, Australia

Accid Anal Prev. 2008 Mar;40(2):829-34. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2007.09.024. Epub 2007 Oct 17.


Car crashes are a major cause of death and serious injury to children but most analyses of risk are based on US data. The Australian context is different in at least three ways: (1) the proportion of passenger-side airbags, a potential risk to children in front seats, is much lower; (2) unlike in the US, Australian airbags are designed to work with restrained passengers; (3) restraint use for children 0-12 years is high (>90%). Official data drawn from Victorian crash records (n=30,631) were used to calculate relative risks of death or serious injury for children (0-3 years, 4-7 years; 8-12 years) traveling in passenger cars during 1993-1998 and 1999-2004. Over 90% were reportedly wearing a restraint, and 20% were traveling in the front seat. For children under 4 years traveling in the front seat, the relative risk of death was twice as great as when traveling in the rear, and that of serious injury was 60% greater. The relative risk of death whilst traveling in the front seat was almost four times greater for children aged under 1 year. We suggest that serious consideration should be given to mandating rear seating for children, particularly those aged 4 and under.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Automobiles / standards
  • Automobiles / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mortality / trends
  • Posture*
  • Protective Devices
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Seat Belts / adverse effects*
  • Seat Belts / statistics & numerical data
  • Victoria