I reminded readers the other day that, "the Department of Transportation is, among other things, a safety agency."
Today, I want to reinforce that point by introducing some new child car seat safety actions: a consumer program to help parents and caregivers find a child seat that fits best in their vehicle, stringent new side-impact standards for child seats, and even better frontal-imapct standards for these seats. We move a lot of goods on American roads, but these new measures are designed to protect our most precious cargo: infants and children.
I recently ordered the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct a comprehensive internal review of child car seat policy. That review team of 30 experts has finished its work. They have recommended the new side-impact standards as well as increased stringency on front-impact standards. Although NTHSA standards for front-impact currently exceed 99.5% of all real-world collisions, we know we can do better for our kids.
NHTSA will also institute a new program to make it easier for parents to choose child safety seats for their specific vehicles. Manufacturers will recommend specific seats in various price ranges that work best for individual vehicles. We'd like to see this program begin with the 2011 model year. Car manufacturers including Nissan and others in Europe already provide similar recommendations, so full implementation here shouldn't be complicated.
Perhaps most troubling about this review is the report that half of all children between the ages of zero and seven-years-old, who were killed in motor vehicle crashes, were not in child safety seats at all. It won't matter how safe our child car seats are if we don't use them to buckle up our children, and use them well. I hope we can all agree that extraordinary cargo deserves extraordinary protection.