RESEARCH has found up to 63 per cent of children aren't riding "in the safest restraint or position of the car", greatly upping their risk of being hurt or killed in a crash.
And one local car seat installer says that's completely unsurprising.
On the heels of a report from the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, Smitty's Tyres & More owner Neroli Smith said new parents came in all the time "confused as anything".
And it didn't help that the law and best-practice recommendations were usually different.
The report was based on a nationwide poll of 1639 parents with 2778 children aged from one month to 13 years.
"While the majority of parents are complying with the law, the legislation does not reflect expert recommendations for safest car seat choices, meaning parents are unknowingly putting their children at a significantly increased risk of serious injury or death in the event of a crash," it states.
One example was the 53pc of parents putting their babies in forward-facing seats earlier than the advised two years of age; it is, after all, legal from six months.
Ms Smith said the shop fitted about 100 car seats per month and many parents came in with "no idea" of the safest car seat and spot.
'He didn't wake'
Second-time mum Deanna Sipple, who welcomed son Beau Turner into the family 10 weeks ago, said she was keenly aware of the importance of getting it right, after a relatively minor crash early this month while Beau was safely ensconced in his rear-facing capsule.
"Someone pulled out in front of us from a stop sign ... and he didn't even wake up."
The report found 63pc of children aged 7-10 years travelled with an adult seatbelt and no booster seat, even though most of them were below the recommended 145cm height - a figure only 3pc of parents knew.
Two-thirds were in a forward-facing car seat by 18 months of age despite advice to be rear-facing until at least two years of age.
Almost half of children aged 7-12 years rode in the front seat, even though that made them twice as likely as kids in the back seat to be injured in a crash.
Ms Smith said that, while the law should be observed at a minimum, it was often safer to look at the child or the seat.
"The RMS is going: '0-6 months must be rear-facing, fully harnessed in a five-point harness' - but a lot of kids are different shapes, sizes, lengths and so on, so the shoulder height markers are a much better idea."
Child restraint best practice guidelines have been developed by Neuroscience Research Australia and Kidsafe, approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council.