Doctors have warned that children are being taken out of booster seats too early, putting them at increased risk of death and serious injury in the family car.

Safety experts are calling for children’s car seat laws to be reviewed.

A recent study by the Royal Children’s Hospital has found that two thirds of children aged seven to ten travel without a booster seat. While that’s legal, most of those kids are under the recommended height of 145cm to safely use an adult seat belt.

The study also revealed that 97% of parents have no idea of what that height guideline is and almost half of children aged seven to 12 regularly sit in the front seat despite it doubling the risk of injury.

According to the survey, 47 per cent of kids between seven and 12 were allowed to sit in the front seat, which doubles their risk of being injured in a crash.

Children between six months and two years of age are being put at risk too, with more than half (53%) of polled parents turning their children to travel forward-facing earlier than recommended.

The nation-wide poll also found:
The most common age for first travelling without a booster seat is seven years (35%) followed by eight years (28%)

The leading reason for having children under 12 travel in the front seat is that their parents believed they were old enough to safely do so (39%)

Tips for parents

  • To keep your young child entertained rearward-facing, utilize toys and mirrors while driving
  • Before transitioning your child out a booster seat ensure they are taller than 145 cm and can pass the five-step test (see on the For Parents page). Place a marker on a wall in your home and measure your child
  • If your child thinks they are too grown up for a booster seat, talk to them about why it’s important they remain in one until they reach 145 cm tall
  • Encourage your child to sit in the back seat of the car until they reach the age of 13 and explain that they are safest in the back

The nation-wide poll surveyed 1,639 parents caring for 2,778 kids.

Share your comments below

  • Awesome, I have had someone say to me my youngest, who is 6 but tall for her age, is tall enough to be without a booster seat and I said no way.


  • So important to follow these guidelines. Our kids safety should be paramount. Thanks for the refresher in these rules.


  • I never knew any of this when my boys were growing up and there was no law about them not being able to sit in the front seat of the car. That changed with my grandchildren. All sat in the back seat with appropriate restraints and seating.


  • This wasn’t a problem in my family as these laws weren’t in place when I had my family. However what happens now – my daughter who drives isn’t at that height limit. And my other daughter and myself just scrape in at 152/154cm and I must say that very few cars accommodate our size to drive them easily. We are not Robinson Crusoe – we are the norm. Driving is not as easy as one first thought.


  • Our twins are nearly 12 but small, they are the only kids in their class still in boosters. They don’t complain because their older sister had to go through it too (with much complaining may I add) and they know we want to keep them safe.


  • Yep, mine are both still in boosters. My eldest is in year 3 and hates it but they are short and I won’t let them transition out of it despite NONE of her other classmates using them.


  • Very wise and smart advice there, thank you very much for sharing this important information.


  • Yes! Yes! and Yes! My son is now 18 but seriously, the issues we had with car seating. He was small so we made him sit in a booster longer than all his friends, and he did not go to the front seat of the car for years after his peers. This caused angst when nearly every one else we knew let their kids go free range in front and back seats. It caused trouble nearly every time our son had to go in the car, whilst he would observe and share of his friends in the front seat long before they should have been, and out of boosters, etc. long before they should have been. I know I need only worry about my car and my child, but it was a battle every day trying to do the right thing. I would research and share my thoughts and research with others, only for it not to be considered.


  • Since my first was born, I’ve done a lot of research on seats and yes I did know this. My eldest was rear facing until she outgrew the rf limit on her seat, I just wish I knew about extended harnessing before I bought her convertible booster. She hasn’t outgrown the harness limits yet, but she is close and not being quite 4 yet, I’m not ready to change her to booster in the coming months. (Fingers crossed I can get a ext harness seat somehow). But yes, unless by some miracle I have tall long torso & leg kids, they will be staying in a child restraint until they meet the 5 step test.
    Might be a bit of a struggle when they get older with extended family, but while I can control it, they will be seated safely.


  • We look like having a very tall child but I am still really worried about making sure he’s in the car seat as long as possible.


  • We always followed the height/weight guidelines when transitioning our kids to different car seats. Doing it because your baby is bored with rear facing……..really?!?!


  • My 9yr old old is still in her booster seat. Safety first indeed. Height is important.


  • I actually thought it was illegal for kids under 13 to travel in the front seat unless all other seats were occupied by other children.


  • safety first has always been our motto. In Vic. unless the law has changed children under a certain age are not allowed to sit in the front seat of any motor vehicle. Our 7 y;.o. is still in his booster seat and will be until he is too big for it.


  • Have to agree. Safety first alwaysover convenience


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