While severe injuries and deaths in automobile accidents are always tragic, there is perhaps nothing more disheartening than the loss of a young life – a child injured or killed in a crash. This tragedy is only compounded when the injury or death of these innocent youngsters could have been avoided through the use of proper child safety seats and restraints.
With that in mind, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is devoting 2011 to a year-long effort to educate the public about child transportation safety, through a campaign designed to reach parents and other caregivers, state and federal regulatory agencies, and the transportation industry itself. The campaign is focused on the need for proper child seats, booster seats, and child restraints. As our experienced Chicago accident attorneys know, this simple precaution, so often ignored, is the single best and easiest way to protect children traveling in automobiles and airplanes.
The NTSB’s campaign includes a public forum, held at the close of last year, titled ‘Child Passenger Safety in the Air and in Automobiles.” The forum was broadcast live via a webcast, which is still available to the public on the NTSB’s website, www.ntsb.gov/children. Also available on the site are short videos on child passenger safety used during the forum, including a set of videos depicting a car accident that killed 4 children and severely injured two others, and a simulation of how the children would have been protected had they been properly secured in age-appropriate booster seats.
Likewise, the current campaign also focuses on the use of proper child restraints in airplanes. At the end of last year, the Federal Department of Transportation’s Future of Aviation Advisory Committee (FAAC) presented 23 recommendations to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. Among those recommendations were several related to child airplane safety.
First, the FAAC recommended that Secretary LaHood utilize DOT resources to educate parents and the public about the dangers of holding a child on a parent’s lap while flying. The Committee further recommended that the DOT update safety and economic data on child airplane passengers, and consider taking steps up to and including rulemaking in response to that data.
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman believes that these recommendations do not go far enough. As she stated, “We appreciate the FAAC acknowledging the dangers associated with children flying on their parents’ laps, but we would have preferred to see the FAA be mandated to require that every person including our youngest children be restrained appropriately for their age and size. We know that the safest place for children younger than age two traveling on airplanes is in an appropriate child safety seat. The era of the lap child on airplanes should come to an end.”
Our aviation crash attorneys applaud Chairman Hersman for her fierce advocacy for child airplane safety, and agree that the recommendations, while a good step, are inadequate. While airplane crashes are infrequent, when they do occur the damage – particularly to young children – can be great. Any inconvenience caused by the simple step of properly securing children in age-appropriate seats and harnesses is far outweighed by the safety benefit these seats confer.
The child injury attorneys of Passen & Powell wish the NTSB luck in its year-long child safety campaign. We urge all parents and caregivers to view the Board’s videos before making decisions about car and air travel, and to take these simple steps to protect our nation’s children.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago injury attorney at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.