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VICTORY: Important Child Safety Bill Becomes Law

VICTORY: Important Child Safety Bill Becomes Law

Posted:  2/29/2008

Read Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook's testimony before the Senate on child safety.

Read the full Act

Yesterday afternoon President Bush approved the first auto-safety law since 2005, when he penned his signature to a bill specifically designed to protect children from non-traffic related automobile accidents.

The "Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Transportation Safety Act of 2007" is now law. The Senate earlier this month passed the bill H.R. 1216 by unanimous consent, while the House passed the bill by voice vote in late December. This is a much-needed step to promote automobile child safety.

The Act will help prevent accidental injuries to children occurring in non-traffic accidents. Safety group Kids and Cars, strong advocates of the Act, reports that in 2007 an average of four children were killed every week in non-traffic related incidents, such as accidental rollovers, power window strangulations, or accidents occurring when an unattended child inadvertently knocks a car into gear.

The Act will also focus attention on a segment of fatalities and injuries that has been traditionally overlooked by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). Two-year old Cameron Gulbransen, for whom the Act is named, was killed when his father accidentally backed over him in the family’s driveway.

Safety measures

The Act requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to research auto safety issues to which children are especially vulnerable. Under the Act the DOT is specifically directed on these safety issues:

  • Auto-reverse for power windows:Initiate rulemaking to consider issuing or amending Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to require that power window mechanisms be equipped with an automatic reverse feature activated if the window's path is obstructed
  • Blind zones:Initiate rulemaking to consider issuing or amending Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to reduce a vehicle's "blind zone," by establishing requirements for different types of motor vehicles that could be met through the integration of additional mirrors, back-up cameras, sensors or other technologies
  • Brake transmission shift interlock:Require that all vehicles all vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2010 and equipped with an automatic transmission system using a 'park' position also be equipped with a system that prevents the vehicle from being shifted out of 'park' unless the brake pedal is depressed

Closing information gaps

In addition, the Act requires that NHTSA for the first time establish a database that stores information about injuries and fatalities that occur in non-traffic and non-crash related situations. Specifically, the Act directs NHTSA to gather information about:

  • The make and model and year of the vehicle involved
  • The number and type of injuries or fatalities
  • Potential causes of the injuries or fatalities

All information gathered and contained in the database would be made public and searchable over the web. Under the Act this information would also be used as one element of a comprehensive consumer awareness program that would make information on ways to reduce non-traffic related automobile risks available to parents and caregivers.


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