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House Transportation Bill Doesn’t Include Key Child-Car Safety Measures

Thursday, April 1, 2004
Sally Greenberg, 202-462-6262

House Votes Today on Transportation Bill That Does Not Include
Child Safety Measures Approved by Senate
Another Child Dies This Week in Preventable Auto Incident

(Washington, D.C.) – In the wake of another death this week in a preventable auto incident, Consumers Union today called on the House of Representatives to adopt legislation approved by the full Senate to address the hazards to children in and around cars as it takes up the transportation bill.
“This child didn’t have to die,” said Sally Greenberg, senior product safety counsel for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. “We have the technology to prevent these deaths, let’s use it.”
Consumers Union is asking the House to support measures in S. 1072, passed by the Senate in February, that would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to address the growing hazards of children in and around cars – specifically, child strangulations in power windows and backover deaths. NHTSA has not pushed Congress to include these safety provisions.
CU safety experts testified before a House Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection March 18 in favor of provisions requiring the federal government to test and evaluate backover warning devices, and close the power window “loophole” so that Detroit-based automakers no longer can install unsafe window switches, as they continue to do in many vehicles. The vast majority of European and Japanese manufacturers’ window switches feature the safer design that prevents child strangulations.
The latest incident was:
A 3-year-old Delphi, Ind., girl was strangled to death March 30, when she got out of her seatbelt and inadvertently raised the power window in her mother’s car while her mother ran into a friend’s house. The mother returned to find her daughter’s neck caught in the car’s window. In the past two years, six children have been strangled in power window incidents, according to the safety group Kids and Cars. The federal government has the authority to track these “non-traffic, non-crash” incidents but declines to do so.
Last year, 72 children were backed over and killed, often by relatives in their own driveways, according to Kids and Cars. As vehicles get larger and longer, it is becoming more difficult for drivers to see small children behind their cars. The federal government has the authority to track these “nontraffic, noncrash” incidents but declines to do so.
“Now is the time to act to prevent any more unnecessary deaths of children,” Greenberg said. “We urge NHTSA to support these measures, and the House of Representatives to pass this legislation, to help save our children’s lives.”
For more information or to read our testimony, click here