BY DR. LOUIS ALPERT
As communicated to this Ombudsman by Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, “Many states lack proven child seat and seat belt laws and many vehicles lack verified crash avoidance and passenger detection and alert safety technologies….Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On average children under age 14 were killed in traffic crashes each day in 2017, resulting in 1,147 fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA). Further, 178,000 children were injured in crashes in 2015….Clearly, this is a public health epidemic in need of urgent remedies, This Child Passenger Safety Week, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety urges our nation’s leaders to take swift action to advance proven solutions.”
States play a critical role in ensuring that child safety seats and seat belts appropriate to a child’s age and development are used by passing laws to require their proper usage. Advocates calls upon state legislatures to enact the following child passenger safety laws:
1) CHILDREN SHOULD BE KEPT IN A REAR-FACING CAR SEAT UNTIL AGE TWO OR OLDER, PROVIDING OPTIMAL SUPPORT FOR THE HEAD AND NECK IN THE EVENT OF A CRASH.
2)WHEN A CHILD HAS OUTGROWN A REAR-FACING CAR SEAT, THEY SHOULD TRANSITION TO A FORWARD-FACING HARNESS AND TETHER SEAT UNTIL THEY OUTGROW THE HEIGHT AND WEIGHT LIMIT OF THE SEAT.
3)CHILDREN SHOULD USE A BOOSTER SEAT UNTIL THEY CAN PROPERLY BE RESTRAINED BY A SEAT BELT, AT APPROXIMATELY 57 INCHES IN HEIGHT.
4) CHILDREN SHOULD REMAIN BUCKLED UP IN THE BACK SEAT UNTIL AT LEAST 13, AND ALL OCCUPANTS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO WEAR SEAT BELTS……
This year Congress will consider at least two bills that specifically address child safety in vehicles. The Hot Cars Act (H.R.3593)-discussed in Ombudsman Alert articles dated 8-9-18, 7-4-19 and 9-12-19 and also the School Bus Safety Act (S.2278) / H.R.3959) which would require critical improvements recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board(NTSB), including three-point seat belts on all new buses, automatic emergency braking, improved protection from engine fires and other safety advances, We urge Congress to pass both commonsense measures with expediency.
Our youngest and most vulnerable passengers urgently need all of these upgrades. Let’s make this “Child Passenger Safety Week” one that truly enhances safety and saves lives.’
In closing, OMBUDSMAN ALERT calls upon our Congresswoman, Nita Lowey. to continue her excellent job to protect the health and safety of all of our residents, this time focusing on our children during this vital “CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY WEEK”
Please direct all comments and questions to [email protected].