TREGEAGLE parents Saxon and Christine Stephens are on a mission to get car seat safety laws changed after a horrific car accident could have cost the lives of their children Indiana, 7, Orlando, 11, or Lucia, 6.
TREGEAGLE parents Saxon and Christine Stephens are on a mission to get car seat safety laws changed after a horrific car accident could have cost the lives of their children Indiana, 7, Orlando, 11, or Lucia, 6. Marc Stapelberg

'There was a truck in our boot': Car seat saved child

TREGEAGLE parents are on a mission to get car seat safety laws changed after a horrific car crash could have cost them their daughter's life.

Christine and Saxon Stephens were sitting in Sydney traffic a month ago with their three children when a truck slammed into them at 80km/h.

 

Luckily they all survived, but not without a cost.

Seven-year-old Indiana sustained life-long spinal trauma which will only get worse as she gets older.

But Christine claimed if she wasn't sitting in a booster seat, she would not be here today.

"It was surreal, the explosion went off ... everyone was screaming and crying which was good," she said.

"When we came to we both said we just wanted to hear the kids screaming, we didn't want to hear silence.

"I got out of the car first as my door was the only one we could open and I looked behind in a real daze and I realised there was a massive truck in our boot against our youngest two's seat in the rear row."

Already a car safety advocate, Christine said when she saw this site she was thankful for the extra money she spent on booster seats and correct installation.

"The law states a child can be turned from rearward facing to forward facing from six months and the recommendation is to keep them rearward facing until aged two or older," Christine said.

 

"When they move into a forward facing seat they only have to be in that until age seven - the recommendation is up to age 12 (or 150cm tall).

"The law recommends 12 years as a minimum for sitting in the front seat but you could put a four year old in the front seat.

But she said that recommendation should be a law.

"The NSW law is pretty dodgy on the front seat...(deployed) air bags come out at 700 kilometres an hour - they would rip a child in half."

"Indiana is seven, the law states we didn't need to have her in a car seat at all but had she not been, the story would be very different today."

Mr Stephens said people will obey the law when there is an implication but if there is a recommendation people tend to take the easier path.

"You take the cheaper option and that complies to Australian standards - but that's effectively a minimum requirement," he said.

"That needs to be rephrased to 'this requirement meets the minimum requirements for your child', or 'this seat meets the maximum requirements'."

They would like to see the following New South Wales recommendations become permanent law:

  • Keep your child rearward facing until age two rather than the recommendation of moving them from six months
  • Keep them in a booster seat beyond seven years old and be sure it's the correct seat for their size
  • Ensure seat belts are not twisted (twisted belts won't help you in an accident).


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