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Senate Panel Approves Child Car-Safety Measures

Thursday, April 14, 2005
Sally Greenberg (202) 462-6262
Janette Fennell (913) 327-0013

Safety Groups Laud Senate Committee for Supporting Child Car-Safety Measures
Safety provisions in “SAFETEA 2005” touch on backover prevention, power window safety and better data collection

(Washington, D.C.) – The Senate Commerce Committee today passed important child car-safety measures – including mandatory safer power window switches and an evaluation of backover warning devices – as part of the SAFETEA bill, which will then be considered by the full Senate.
“We commend the Committee’s leadership – Senator Stevens (R-AL), Senator Lott (R-MI) and Senator Inouye (D-HI) for their strong support and for helping to guide the Committee to bipartisan consensus and a unanimous vote in support of the safety provisions in this bill, especially those that specifically focus on protecting children in and around cars,” said Sally Greenberg, CU senior product safety counsel. “We urge the full Senate to take the next step.”
Consumers Union and Kids and Cars have formed a partnership to focus Congress on the dangers to children from vehicles backing up when the children are in their blind zone. At least 100 children were backed over in 2004, according to Kids and Cars.
“The Senate’s actions today are a critical first step in legislating and educating the public on these predictable, but preventable events,” said Janette Fennell. “We know how to fix these hazards. The sooner we act, the more children we will be protecting from injury or death.”
The bill goes to the full Senate and then, supporters hope, to a conference with the Senate’s House counterpart, the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The Senate bill requires:
• the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to evaluate methods for reducing backover incidents and directs NHTSA to report to Congress within a year on its findings;
• NHTSA to mandate the installation of safe power window switches – the push down, pull up models – and the agency must develop a final rule by April 1, 2007. This provision will also require the phase-out of the older, more hazardous switches that killed 9 children last year alone, according to Kids and Cars.
• NHTSA is also required under the Senate Committee’s passed bill to establish a method of tracking backover, power window and hypothermia incidents – all called “noncrash, nontraffic events – something the agency has the authority to do, but doesn’t, leaving out of the agency’s death and injury databases many incidents that occur off public roads.
Both groups also support other critically important life-saving measures contained in SAFETEA, all of which received bipartisan support. These include provisions on rollover protection, occupant ejection prevention, roof strength, side-impact crash protection, safety belt use reminders, and 15 passenger van safety.