Child Safety-Seat Testing Urged
Senators Say Decades-Old Crash Test Methods Used
Feb. 24, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Three
senators, all with young children of their own, have outlined legislation that
would require the government to establish tougher testing standards for child
"Crash tests performed on
children's car seats involve the use of technology that dates back to the 1970s,"
said Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., sponsor of the measure with Sen. Blanche
Lincoln, D-Ark., and Rick Santorum, R-Pa. "Improvements to the federal standards
are long overdue."
The legislation would require
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to update testing
to reflect changes in automobiles. Currently the NHTSA uses a test bench modeled
after a 1975 Chevy Impala, the senators said.
The NHTSA also would be
directed to increase the number of test dummies to reflect children of different
ages and sizes, test some car seats in actual cars and provide parents with
accurate, easy-to-understand information.
Closing the gap
The agency also would be
required to work on closing the "child safety gap," which leaves children too
big for car seats but too small for adult safety belts unprotected.
Fitzgerald said Wednesday
that his 7-year-old child fits in this category. Lincoln, who has 3-year-old
twins, said it was "risky and unnecessary" to allow car seat manufacturers to
"self-regulate." Santorum said that as the father of five small children he
has firsthand understanding of the need for legislation.
They said the bill is supported
by major child safety and medical organizations.