National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
I am pleased that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has taken this first step to propose a warning label advising parents that young children should not use seat and shoulder belt positioning devices in cars. These labels result from a 1996 comprehensive NTSB study on child passenger safety. One NTSB recommendation generated by that study asked NHTSA to establish performance standards for shoulder belt adjusters used by children.
In May, the Secretary of Transportation's Blue Ribbon Panel on Protecting Older Child Passengers also recommended that until NHTSA establishes regulations for these devices, the public should be educated that booster seats are preferred over the use of aftermarket shoulder belt positioners because of the potential of these unregulated devices to degrade lap/shoulder belt performance. This week's announcement by NHTSA is an endorsement of the Safety Board recommendation and the finding of the Blue Ribbon Panel.
Even with these new labels, the Safety Board still believes there will continue to be a problem of informing parents about all the difficulties of protecting their children in cars. The answer is for states and automobile manufacturers to establish fitting stations where parents can go at their convenience to find out if their child is properly protected.
The Safety Board formally asked for the establishment of fitting stations this past January. In June, DaimlerChrysler answered our call by announcing that it will provide this service to its customers. I have requested that the other automakers follow suit, and believe that NHTSA's action this week provides additional justification for fitting stations.
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.