Mum urges parents to use rear-facing car seats after decision saved son's life

A mum has urged parents to use rear-facing car seats for their children, after her decision to do so saved her son’s life in a head-on car crash.

Mum Tathra Di Liberto says she was often criticised by her friends for positioning her son’s child seat to face the back of the car. Friends and family told Tathra her son, Axton, was too old and would get bored facing the back, but she ignored their claims in an effort to keep the 23-month-old safe.

Tathra was incredibly grateful she made that choice when she was called and told that her son, along with Tathra’s mum and brother, had been involved in a head-on collision with another car.

The position of Axton’s car seat may have saved his life.

‘My parents love to have Axton stay with them over the weekend every so often, so they can spend some time together with their grandson,’ Tathra said.

‘I’d dropped him off at their house on the Friday afternoon. Mum and I were actually discussing the rear-facing seat, as they were going to put it in their car.

‘Mum suggested to just turn him to the front, but I said not to, and helped her adjust it. And thank god we did. I got a phone call from my brother after 5pm the next day who told me that they’d all been in a car accident. I felt sick to my stomach.

‘They’d not even got two miles from the house when it happened. They were just going to grab some dinner together. He said everyone was okay, but that him and mum were hurt. But luckily, Axton didn’t have a scratch on him.’

Tathra’s mum and brother were both injured, with Bailey suffering severe whiplash and seatbelt bruising while Bronwyn had a tendon completely torn off the bone in her knee.

‘Thankfully, Axton is fine, and Mum told me that the paramedics, police and firefighters all told her the rear-facing car seat saved his life,’ Tathra said.

‘Without it, he could have suffered internal decapitation, neck injuries or a broken spine. He could have been killed or paralysed for life.’

After the terrifying incident, Tathra is sharing her experience to encourage other parents to position their children’s car seats so they’re facing towards the back of the car.

This is despite UK law, which states that children over 15 months old can use a front-facing seat. In Australia, where Tathra and her family live, guidelines state children can be placed in front-facing car seats from six months old, while in the US guidelines recommend children in rear-facing car seats until they are two years old.

Tathra wants laws to be changed so children are required to sit in rear-facing car seats until the age of two. She believes this could save lives.

She said: ‘I’m just so grateful. I keep thinking about the ‘what if?’ scenarios, and it makes me feel sick,’ she said.

‘I think poor Axton is a bit traumatised from it though, because he cries every time as soon as I put him into the car seat now. He never did that before.

‘There is a bit of debate about when kids should be turned front-facing, and I really would urge parents to keep them rear-facing for as long as possible.

‘I used to get criticised by loads of people who told me he was too old for it, or that he would get bored. But at the end of the day, it can save your child’s life. I’d never want to risk it.

‘Now I just want to help spread the message and raise awareness about rear-facing car seats

‘When I think about how easily we could have lost him, I get teary. My husband and I are quite traumatised by it all. I’m just so thankful that he is still with us. This could have have a far more tragic outcome.’

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