Booster seat warning after car crash leaves boy, 11, paralysed

Study finds parents are unaware of guidelines

Content Editor / May 17 2019

While current Australian regulations state that children aged seven or older can travel without a booster seat, parents are largely unaware that height guidelines apply too.

The National Child Health Poll found that 97 per cent of parents are unaware that children should be at least 145cm tall to travel without a booster seat, regardless of their age, 10 Daily reports.

"The vast majority of Australian parents are unaware of some of the safest practice 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 survey looked at 1600 Australian families and found that around 63 per cent of children are travelling without a booster, even though they are too short.

Sam Farnsworth, 11, was travelling home from school when the car he was in was struck head-on by a vehicle that was in the wrong lane.

10 Daily

10 Daily

His mother and twin brother suffered injuries but Sam got the brunt of the crash, receiving damage to his brain stem.

Sam and his brother are both under 145cm tall.

The accident happened a few kilometres from the family home and his father, Neil Farnsworth, arrived quickly on the scene.

"Scary. Scary to look in and see your boy not breathing," he said.

10 Daily

10 Daily

Sam is now a quadriplegic, and his mother Lisa says he will probably never walk again. The amount of brain damage he has sustained in unknown. He has been making small progress and can blink to communicate.

Lisa says she had no idea that her children should have been in booster seats, and urges parents to educate themselves.

The Royal Children's Hospital and Australia's peak motoring groups are pushing for legislation to be changed so that injuries like Sam's can be avoided.

Nicola Conville has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years across a wide range of print and online publications. Her areas of expertise are parenting, health and travel. She has two children; Lucy, age eight, and Nathan, age five.

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