Legislature Intends To Make Cars Kid-Safe
by Glady Reign
A new legislation bill, if turned into law, could force automakers to install rear-view cameras and power windows that could automatically reverse. The proposal is aimed at avoiding accidents that have plagued the land for several centuries now.
The bill, known as the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act, was proposed by U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and John Sununu, R-N.H. and it is named after a 2-year-old New York boy who was accidentally run over and killed in 2002 when his father backed his SUV out of his driveway.
"Nearly every other day, a child dies in the United States from a completely preventable tragedy -- backed over by a driver who could not see behind (the) vehicle, strangled in a power window or killed when an automobile inadvertently shifts into gear," said Clinton on the Senate floor. The bill "will help to ensure that America's cars (are) properly equipped to prevent these tragedies from happening."
In November 2005, a similar car safety bill was proposed. Unfortunately, it was not successfully passed through the usual means. Parents and critics alike concur to the idea that such bill is indispensable in today’s milieu. In December, a 3-year-old girl was killed in Detroit when she was caught in a Pontiac Vibe window and strangled her.
"If automakers can add heated seats and chilled cupholders then they can afford to save kids' lives," said Janette E. Fennell, the founder and president of the advocacy group Kids and Cars, who has spearheaded the effort to force automakers to make more safety features standard and will be at today's announcement.
The newly proposed bill mandates the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to create new safety regulations that require equipment that alerts drivers to children or others behind a vehicle, makes power windows reverse direction when they are obstructed by an object and prevents vehicles from rolling away when parked. The bill also requires NHTSA to improve its collection of data on these "nontraffic, noncrash injuries" to children.
"No longer will manufacturers be able to put power window switches in cars that make it easy for a child to be strangled by kneeling on an armrest," said U.S. Rep. Jan Schawkowsky, D-Ill., in a statement supporting the legislation. "Back-over warning systems: $300 (and this price will go down as they become standard). Saving one child's life: priceless."
According to NHTSA data, back-over accidents result in about 183 fatalities annually and approximately 7,000 injuries. It is not clear how many are killed or injured by automatic windows.
Bills of such nature are also opposed. Dave McCurdy, the president of the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers, which represents General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler AG and Toyota Motor Corp. among others, said automakers have spent enormous amounts of effort and money making vehicles safe for children. He noted that automakers voluntarily agreed last August to add brake-shift interlock systems, which require a driver to engage the brake before shifting a vehicle into gear, reducing the risk of a child accidentally putting a car in motion.
By 2010, automakers will install the devices in all vehicles, up from about 80 percent of 2006 models. Nonetheless, safety advocates still find it wanting in some respects. Automakers oppose the other two mandates in the new bill, automatically reversing windows and rear-view cameras. According to the legislation, the installation of power reverse would cost about $10 per window or nearly $700 million annually. This necessitates expending a considerable sum on the part of the automakers.
A recent NHTSA regulation mandates that automakers install switches by September 2008 that require users to pull up to open a window. However, the said regulation does not require the windows to reverse automatically.
"The answer is not, 'Let's just keep blaming the parents,'" said Former New Hampshire State Rep. Packy Campbell. “These safety groups aren't asking for a hell of a lot. I agree you can't protect from every possible danger, but these are common-sense, cost-effective solutions."
Volvo accessories and car parts, known for their reliability and safety capabilities, are still evolving along with other manufacturers’ auto parts to create safer features.
*For more information or to sign a petition for the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act of 2007, visit kidsandcars.org.
About the Author
Glady Reign is a 32 year old is a consultant for an automotive firm based in Detroit, Mi. she is a native of the motor city and grew up around cars hence her expertise in the automotive field. Visit Volvo accessories for more information.
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