NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


April 8, 1999

NEW YORK, NY - Saying that child passengers have been an afterthought when it comes to designing cars, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall told an audience of auto makers and marketing officials that it is time to put the safety of our nation's children first in vehicle design.

In a speech today to the World Traffic Safety Symposium at the New York Auto Show, Hall noted that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children over the age of 5. In the 1990s alone, more than 60,000 children, infants to teenagers, have died in traffic crashes. "That's more than all of the American servicemen killed during our 10-year involvement in Vietnam," Hall said. On average, 24 children under the age of 10 die every week in motor vehicle crashes.

"Certainly, we need look no further than the first generation airbag to understand the consequences" of not including the welfare of children in auto designs, Hall said. "We learned quickly and painfully that designing and certifying a system to protect all occupants using only an averaged- size adult male dummy can have tragic results for smaller passengers."

With certain models of automobiles now being marketed on the basis of safety, Chairman Hall said that it is time to take the next step. "I ask [auto makers] to incorporate safety designs aimed primarily at our children, features that shut off airbags when child seats are present, that permit child restraints to be easily secured in the back seats, that include lap/shoulder belts with adjustable upper anchorages in all rear seat positions, and that incorporate integrated or built-in child safety seats."

Hall challenged automakers to "look beyond making cars faster, sleeker, and more attractive…It's time for every vehicle manufacturer to accept our challenge - to put children first in vehicle design."

Chairman Hall's speech, "Putting Children First," is also available on the Board's web page.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.