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NHTSA Proposes Adding Child Restraint Rating System To Auto Safety Consumer Information Program

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

NHTSA Proposes Adding Child Restraint Rating System To Auto Safety Consumer Information Program

November 1, 2001

NHTSA 58-01
Thursday, November 1, 2001
Contact: Tim Hurd
Tel. No.: (202) 366-9550

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today issued a request for public comment on ways to provide consumers with information on child restraint performance and ease of use.

"We want to help consumers make informed decisions when purchasing child safety seats and make sure that children are well-protected when riding in motor vehicles," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

The Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act, which became law in November 2000, calls for the development of a child restraint safety rating system that is practicable and understandable. Ratings must be available by November, 2002. Today's request is one of several actions the agency is taking to enhance the safe transportation of children.

"We know from our crash test ratings that when consumers have information, they buy the vehicles with better safety ratings. We also know that consumers are most concerned about safety when they will be transporting children. With the addition of child restraint ratings, we are helping the public make informed choices about not just their vehicle, but also the child restraint they will use in that vehicle," said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge.

NHTSA has tentatively concluded that the most effective consumer information system is one that gives the consumer a combination of information about child restraints' performance in crashes and ease of use. The measures being considered to assess performance in crashes include testing the child restraint at higher speeds than is currently required in the child restraint safety standard or putting child restraints in the back seat of vehicles that will be crash-tested. For the ease-of-use rating, NHTSA proposes a 3-level system, labeled A, B, and C.

Dr. Runge expects that the new child restraint information program will motivate manufacturers to create child restraints that are safer and easier to use. He emphasized that a child restraint can protect a child only if it is used correctly and installed properly.

"All children age 12 and under should ride properly restrained in the back seat," Dr. Runge said. "Infants, from birth to about age one, and weighing up to 20 pounds should ride in the back seat in a rear-facing safety seat. Children over one year and at least 20 pounds may ride forward-facing in the rear seat in an appropriate child restraint. Children should ride in a child restraint with a full harness until they weigh about 40 pounds. All children who have outgrown child safety seats should be properly restrained in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4 feet 9 inches tall."

To be considered, comments must be provided to NHTSA within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register. The agency will then review the comments to determine what further actions should be taken. Comments may be submitted in writing to the Department of Transportation's Docket Management Section, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street S.W., Washington, DC 20590. It is requested, though not required, that two copies of the comments be provided. The docket section is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Comments should cite the docket number, NHTSA-2001-10053-Notice 1.

Alternatively, comments may be submitted electronically by logging onto the docket management system website at http://dms.dot.gov. Click on "Help" or "Electronic

Submission" to obtain instructions for filing the document electronically. The electronic docket number is 10053.

The notice of request for comments is posted on the NHTSA Web Site at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/ and can be reached by clicking on "Notices and Final Rules."

Final decisions on the child restraint rating program, which would begin in late 2002, will be made early next year.


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