Thursday, April 25, 2002
|Contact: Tim Hurd
Tel.: (202) 366-9550
NHTSA Proposes Revisions
To Child Restraint Standard
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today proposed multiple revisions to the federal safety standard for child restraint systems. The proposed revisions include updating the seat assembly used to test child restraints, adding state-of-the-art infant and child test dummies and a new weighted dummy to better test booster seats, adding new injury criteria to protect against neck injury, and extending the standard to child restraints recommended for use by children up to 65 pounds.
"These changes will make our safety standard more representative of current vehicle designs, so that our evaluation of the protection afforded by child safety seats will more accurately reflect the actual conditions in which child safety seats are now used," said Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D., NHTSA Administrator.
This proposal is being issued in response to the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act of 2000, which directed NHTSA to improve the safety of child restraints. The proposal can be viewed on NHTSA's web site at http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/rulings/
NHTSA's proposal reflects a combination of pre- and post-TREAD Act agency activities, including extensive testing of child restraints and dummies by its Vehicle Research and Test Center and by the agency in its New Car Assessment Program, and on evaluations of vehicle seat assemblies and crash forces. It is also based on data analysis, including review of existing research papers and standards in other countries. The agency also took into consideration submissions by the public in response to the agency's safety plan.
Comments may be submitted in writing to: Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC, 20590. Alternatively, comments may be submitted electronically on the Department's docket management system web site at http://dms.dot.gov/
Those wishing to comment should click on "Help & Information" or "Help/Info" to view instructions for filing comments electronically. Regardless of submission method, it is necessary to cite the docket number, NHTSA-02-11707.
NHTSA today also announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) requesting advice and comments from the public on ways to improve protection for children in passenger vehicles that are struck from the side. With this announcement, the United States will be the first country in the world to start rulemaking to require protection of children in side crashes.
Most efforts by governments and researchers over the last 20 years have focused on protection in frontal crashes since they represent the greatest portion of the crashes. According to NHTSA, much less is known about protecting children in side crashes. Consequently, this child protection rulemaking initiative will require that NHTSA ensure the availability of a suitable test dummy and criteria that can effectively assess child safety seat protection capabilities in side impact. This effort will take longer than the frontal crash protection measures because it will involve considerable research and testing to lead to side crash protection measures. However, NHTSA has already initiated substantial testing as a beginning to this process. The notice, which was posted today at the Federal Register, sets forth the agency findings and which areas require further understanding about protecting children involved in side crashes. NHTSA officials said they welcome public review and comment on this advance proposal to help them move forward to further improve the safety protection of children riding in motor vehicles.
The complete ANPRM is available on NHTSA's website at http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/rulings/ and is posted today at the Federal Register. Comments should be sent to the DOT Docket (Docket Number: NHTSA 02-12151) within 60 days of this ANPRM's publication in the Federal Register.
This rulemaking action also is required by the TREAD Act. It directs NHTSA to initiate a rulemaking for the purpose of improving the safety of child restraints and specifies what the agency must consider in that rulemaking.
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