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  • Tougher 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 safety seats.

    "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.

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