Safety For The Growing Child – Experiences From Swedish Accident Data

  • Published: International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV), 23rd Conference, Paper Number 05-0330, 2005
  • Authors: Lotta Jakobsson, Irene Isaksson-Hellman, Björn Lundell
  • Date Added: 03 Apr 2012
  • Last Update: 23 Jul 2013
  • Format: pdf


To evaluate child safety with respect to age, size in different impact situations and to identify optimal restraints and potential areas for improvement.


Analysis of car crashes from Volvo's statistical accident database between 1987 and 2004 involving 3,670 children, aged 0-15 years.

Key Findings:

  • During the past 40 years, different child restraint systems have been developed to improve protection for children of different sizes and ages.

  • The development of more effective child restraints, and increased use of restraints, in addition to enhanced vehicle safety, has increased child safety.

  • The injury-reducing effect of the child restraint systems was high overall.

  • The highest injury-reducing effect was found in rearward facing child restraints for children up to 3-4 years of age, offering an injury-reducing effect of 90% compared to an unrestrained child.

  • Belt positioning boosters from 4 to 10 years of age were found to have an injury reducing effect of 77%.

  • Compared to adults, children have a generally lower AIS 2+ injury rate, except for abdominal and lower-extremity injuries.

  • Abdominal injuries are mainly found in children using only a seat belt, emphasising the need for belt-positioning boosters.

  • A tendency of higher injury risk was found when the growing child switches from one restraint to another, i.e. when the child is at the youngest age approved for the restraint.

  • Thus, the total injury-reducing effect would increase if all children were to use the child restraint system most appropriate for their size and age.

  • The challenge is to spread information as well as enhance design to encourage everyone to use the appropriate child restraint system and to use it correctly.

  • Head injuries are the most frequent moderate or severe for side (as well as frontal) impacts.

  • The head is by far the most injured body region in side impacts, while in frontal mpacts the injuries are more evenly distributed over the different body parts.

  • Rearward-facing child seats are designed primarily for frontal impacts, however the outcome for side and rear-end impacts indicates a good performance in these situations.

  • No rearward-facing child sustained MAIS 2+ injuries in side or rear-end impacts.