President Bush Expected To Sign Automotive Child Safety Act
By Chris Haak
The US Senate has passed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act, which will direct the NHTSA to develop rules that require automakers to equip vehicles with auto-reverse mechanisms on power windows (when obstructions are encountered), a brake-shift interlock that prevents the vehicle from being shifted out of park without the brake pedal being depressed, and technology (such as mirrors, sensors, or cameras) allowing drivers to see obstructions behind the vehicle when backing up.
President Bush is expected to sign the bill, which was passed by the House last year, into law. It is named for Cameron Gulbransen, who was a two year old accidentally killed by his father in 2002 when he backed the family SUV over the child.
More than 1,000 children have been killed in non-traffic, non-crash events. 46% of those deaths occurred when the children were backed over by a vehicle, while 24% were blamed on hypothermia, 13% from a child placing a vehicle in motion, and 3% from strangulation from a power accessory (such as a window).
Like many safety features, this law’s requirements will increase the price of most vehicles (unless they are already equipped with these features). It’s a shame that parents aren’t able to closely monitor where their children are when moving cars in the driveway; I know that in spite of being equipped with a backup camera, I refuse to move our van without checking behind it and knowing that our children – and the neighbors’ – are in my line of sight next to, or in front of, the vehicle I’m about to back up. But if this saves even some lives, it might be worth it. The problem is, drivers will still have the responsibility to check the display screen for obstructions. My guess is that more basic models will not have rearview cameras, but will employ small sonar sensors in the bumper instead. Our van also has those, but it beeps so loudly that my wife often turns it off, lest it wake a sleeping baby.
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