ds is 20 pounds and 10 months? he is 30 inches and he is already cramped I am going to turn he around when he is a year and 33 inches. I have been a nanny for fifteen years and never in my life have I heard of keep a toddler rear facing. In Ma if the child is one and 20 pounds everyone turns them around. The kids love the social interaction. Looking at a blank seat is really tough for a toddler. I can see if the child is not yet one and is 30 pounds but three years old. It sounds quite severe. If you do not feel comfortable with the norm than don't watch her child. Your anxiety from the issue while driving is much more dangerous than a three pound dif. in opinion. It is not worth a debate with your friend.
It is MUCH safer. I would never turn a 1 yr old around if there was a seat that could hold them RF.
I *strongly* suggest you do more research on that.
My dd interacts just fine rf. It's not like she could see my face while I'm driving anyway.