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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – Car seats can protect a child during a front or side crash, but now researchers are looking how they perform when a driver is hit from the rear.

In 2016 Heather Hope was driving home with her 16-month-old daughter Anastacia when another vehicle hit and flipped her car. Heather was killed but her baby, who was strapped in a rear-facing car seat, survived with minor injuries. Heather’s family said she had been very careful to pick out a safe seat.

“It paid off and I’m so thankful and I know she would be so happy knowing that her daughter is still here with us,” said Heather’s sister Amber Hope.

Studies show rear-facing seats can be highly effective in a front and side collisions. But researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center wanted to see how they perform in rear accidents – when the child is facing the impact of the crash.

“We wanted to run this test and see what happened with the crash test dummies,” said the medical center’s Julie Mansfield.

Mansfield, who authored the study, conducted tests on multiple rear facing seats. All were effective at absorbing the force of the crash and protecting the child.

“Those crash forces are going to be transferred from the shell of the car seat into the vehicle seat and into the vehicle and that keeps the crash energy away from the occupant himself,” said Mansfield.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should keep their toddlers in rear-facing seats until they are two years old or when they reach the maximum height and weight.

“The rear facing seat does a really good job of keeping the head, neck, and spine supported,” said Mansfield.

And that can save a child’s life.

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