AUSTRALIAN children are becoming so fat they need bigger booster seats to keep them safe in cars, an alarming new report has found.
The study by accident researchers in Melbourne has found almost 40% of children who meet the height criteria for booster seats are too heavy to use them.
Parents are instead restraining overweight and obese youngsters with adult seatbelts, a dangerous alternative that leaves them more vulnerable to injury in an accident.
The team called for the maximum booster weight to be increased from 26kg to 36kg and a new parental education campaign as part of the Federal Government review of restraint guidelines currently under way.
The call came as the Victorian Government prepares to ban children aged under seven from riding in the front seat of cars. The legislation is expected to be introduced next year.
The study by the Monash University Accident Research Centre surveyed parents of 633 children aged 4 to 11 who fell within the recommended height range for using booster seats.
It found that only 37% of the children who met the recommended height exceeded the maximum weight for booster seats stipulated by the Australian safety standard.
More than 500 children die on Australian roads each year and another 2300 children are seriously injured in car accidents each year.