National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
The National Transportation Safety Board today hosted a roundtable discussion aimed at developing easier-to-use designs for child restraint systems used in automobiles.
The NTSB, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, child safety seat manufacturers, automakers, researchers, advocacy groups, and industry associations all participated in the meeting held at a hotel in Crystal City, Virginia. In all, nearly 50 people attended. The meeting was a continuation of NTSB Chairman Jim Hall's initiative to make 1999 the year of child transportation safety.
"To be effective, a safety device must be easy to use, especially when ease of use can make the difference between life and death," Chairman Hall said today as he convened the meeting. "Child restraints aren't user friendly. We must - and can - do better."
In 1996, the Safety Board conducted a comprehensive crash investigation study on child restraint use. The Board found that child restraints were not tightly secured in the vehicle and that the child was not always properly secured in the restraint. Some of the more common mistakes were loose harness straps, non-use of the harness clip, improperly threaded harness straps, or using the wrong harness straps altogether. The Safety Board also found that even when parents said that they read the owner's manual on how to use the child restraint, they still made mistakes.
As a result of that report, the Safety Board issued an urgent recommendation to the child restraint manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to work together to simplify the placement of a child in restraint systems. Even though the Safety Board placed this recommendation on its "Most Wanted" list of safety improvements, there has been little response.
"I invited you to this meeting in the hope that we will get some positive action on the recommendation," Chairman Hall told the participants.
Today's discussion focused on ways to make it easier for parents to buckle up their children and on developing clear and simple instructions.
A text of Chairman Hall's address to the meeting is available at the Safety Board's website, http://www.ntsb.gov/speeches/former/hall/jhc_indx.htm.
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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.