NTSB safety recommendations are issued as a result of its investigations of transportation accidents, incidents and safety studies conducted by the Safety Board to improve Transportation Safety. When these recommendations are not implemented, transportation safety continues to be at risk.
Since the late 1970s the NTSB has recommended that children under the age of 2 be restrained in an appropriate child restraint device when traveling by air, and thereby remove the allowance for these young children to be carried lap held and without adequate restraint. Notably, the NTSB asked for this requirement following the 1989 accident in Sioux City, Iowa and the 1994 accident in Charlotte, North Carolina, in both of which unrestrained infants sustained fatal injuries. The NTSB then placed this issue on the Most Wanted List in 1999.
The FAA refused to require that children under age 2 be restrained, choosing to rely on an education campaign as an alternative. The FAA concluded that the cost of requiring parents to purchase an airfare for their child would result in some parents diverting to highway travel as an alternative, and that because of the much higher accident risk associated with highway travel, the result would be an increase in fatalities and injuries. Based on its own analysis of 24 years of transportation data, the NTSB determined that increased highway travel occurred annually, regardless of whether aviation travel increased or decreased, and that highway deaths have actually declined during this period of increased highway travel. Moreover, actual education efforts did not reach the level originally described, consisting of little more than a webpage with no media advertising or efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of the education campaign. To date, aviation travel fails to provide one level of safety for all aircraft passengers.