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PRESIDENT CLINTON UNVEILS NEW UNIVERSAL CHILD SEAT ATTACHMENT SYSTEM TO MAKE INSTALLATION SAFER, EASIER

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American Government

PRESIDENT CLINTON UNVEILS NEW UNIVERSAL CHILD SEAT ATTACHMENT SYSTEM TO MAKE INSTALLATION SAFER, EASIER

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
February 15, 1997

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, February 15, 1997
NHTSA 10-97
Contact:  Tim Hurd
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550

President Clinton today announced a proposed rule for a universal child safety seat attachment system, which will make child safety seats much easier to install in motor vehicles, eliminating incompatibility problems and saving lives by making child seats more secure and easier to use.

"A car seat can protect a child from the violence of the worst crashes," President Clinton said. "So today, we are acting to solve a problem that s been around for too long -- we're taking steps to make sure that your child s car seat will stay put in your car every time. With this plan, we're moving closer to the day when safe, well-attached car seats will be the rule of the road."

President Clinton made the announcement in a radio address taped Friday at the White House just after swearing in Rodney E. Slater as the nation s 13th Secretary of Transportation.

"You should not need an engineering degree to be sure a child safety seat is attached properly," Secretary Slater said. "This innovation would remove a source of frustration and unease for millions of parents and help increase the number of young children using safety seats."

The Department of Transportation s rule proposes that, in two years, all new cars, light trucks and vans be required to have uniform, universal "soft" attachment points in a standard location. A top-attaching tether will provide a secure connection between the top of the seat and the vehicle. All child safety seats would be required to have attachment points to match those in new vehicles.

Department of Transportation checkpoints show that up to 80 percent of child safety seats are misused. There are more than 900 vehicle models with different types of safety belts, and there over 100 models of child safety seats on the market today. The number of possible combinations of child seats with vehicle seats has caused compatibility problems and consumer confusion.

"Assuming the seat fits, conscientious parents then must work through complicated instructions and study owners manuals. The difficulty of installing current child seat designs may lead some to simply give up on their use," said Ricardo Martinez, M.D., administrator of the department s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

A uniform method for attaching child safety seats was the number one recommendation of a Blue Ribbon Panel commissioned last year by the department s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Today I am pleased that we are acting on the panel's number one proposal," President Clinton said. "Parents are not alone in their concerns -- automobile and car seat makers, consumer organizations, the medical community, all have felt there was too much confusion surrounding child seat safety."

NHTSA statistics show that every day an unrestrained child under the age of 5 is killed in a traffic crash. Child safety seats, when used properly, are the most effective safety device available. They reduce the risk of fatality for infants by 70 percent and for toddlers by over half.

Dr. Martinez noted that while the new seating system may take two years to be fully available, there are millions of child seats in use now that do not have these features. He urged parents and care givers to be sure that all children are properly restrained. Children belong in the back seats, buckled up in the safety equipment appropriate for their size.

He also warned that far too many children, 40 percent, are riding with no child seat or seat belt at all. He called on the public to support strict enforcement of child passenger safety laws that require all children to be properly restrained.

There will be a 90-day comment period on the proposal, after which a final rule will be issued incorporating any necessary changes.

Note to news media:

  • The text of the President's radio address and the press release from the White House can be retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://www.whitehouse.gov.
  • The text of the universal child safety seat attachment proposal and a photograph of the system are posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Web site, http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
  • A broadcast quality videotape showing installation of the new seating system is available by calling (202) 366-6918. Voice mail will be monitored regularly.



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