Booster Seat Warning After Car Crash Leaves 11-Year-Old Boy Paralysed
New research has found Australia's car seat safety regulations are putting children at risk.
While parents are complying with the age restrictions, most don't know how tall their child needs to be to avoid being seriously injured in a crash.
The National Child Health Poll found only three percent of parents know their child should be 145 centimetres tall to travel without a booster seat, regardless of their age.
"The vast majority of Australian parents are unaware of some of the safest practise recommendations when it comes to kids in cars," Dr Anthea Rhodes said.
"Here in Australia the law is somewhat different to what we now know to be safest practice recommendations."
The poll surveyed 1,600 Australian families and found 63 percent of children between seven to 10 years old travel without a booster, even though most of them are too short.
"More than two-thirds of children are coming out of booster seats before it's safe for them to do so,” Rhodes said.
Sam Farnsworth, 11, has become the face of The Royal Children's Hospital's research.
In February, he was travelling home from school with his twin brother when their family car was struck head-on by a vehicle travelling in the wrong lane.
His mother's ankles were crushed and his brother was injured, but Sam suffered catastrophic damaged to his brain stem.
The smash happened just a few kilometres from their home. Sam's father was on the scene within minutes.
"Scary. Scary to look in and see your boy not breathing," Neil Farnsworth said.
"An angel was with us on the day.
"We picked him up out of the car, put him on the ground, and the first lady that came over my shoulder was an ICU nurse and she said 'Can I do anything?'"
Sam is now a quadriplegic.
"He probably will never walk again," his mother Lisa Farnsworth said.
"We don't know how much brain damage he has."
But Sam is making small gains every day.
He now blinks once for 'yes', twice for 'no', and three blinks means 'I love you'.
He also operates a specially designed computer with his chin which helps him to type words.
Sam can move his left foot slightly and can squeeze with his right hand.
He can also feel pain.
"He may be able to have a quality of life [to which] I initially said, 'Well, what sort of quality of life is that?'" Neil said.
"But what else can you do?"
Sam and his brother are both under 145 centimetres tall.
Lisa said she had no idea they should be travelling with a booster seat and is urging parents to educate themselves.
"It's something that I as a parent will definitely be saying," Lisa said.
"You need to push through kids fighting, because at that age they're going to fight sitting in a car seat [and say], 'I’m not a baby', you know?
"I don't think I could say I was let down. It's more about knowledge.
"And knowledge is a powerful thing."
The Royal Children's Hospital and Australia's peak motoring groups are now pushing for the legislation to be changed so that horrific injuries like Sam's can be avoided.