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Child safety advocates lobby for vehicle sensors

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Child safety advocates lobby for vehicle sensors

March 10, 2006



WASHINGTON -- Child safety advocates launched a blitz Thursday for bills in Congress that would require automakers to install safety devices aimed at protecting children.

The Kansas-based Kids and Cars coalition, along with Consumers Union, say the bills -- one in the House and one in the Senate -- would sharply cut non-crash vehicle accidents that they estimate killed 213 children last year, with at least 1,000 deaths since 1999.

Both bills would require automakers to install systems to improve visibility behind vehicles and design power windows that automatically reverse when they hit an obstruction. The Kids and Cars coalition says automakers could add three key safety devices for about $300 per vehicle. The coalition, along with the families of eight children who died in such accidents, will press their case to lawmakers.

"I hope we can come together in a bipartisan manner to make these necessary changes," said Greg Gulbransen, a Long Island, N.Y., pediatrician who accidentally ran over his 2-year-old son Cameron in 2002. "The technology's out there. They could do it."

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., one of the cosponsors of the Senate bill, said the bill was comparable to what lawmakers have ordered in the past for garage doors, refrigerators and vehicle air bags to reduce the dangers posed to children.

"We need to make the changes that this legislation calls for to make these accidents a thing of the past," she said.

But automakers say the devices being touted would cost far more than the advocates suggest and do little to improve safety. Eron Shosteck, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said the reverse sensing systems touted by the safety advocates cost $300 alone and are not nearly sensitive enough to alert a driver to a small child. The only systems that do work are rearview video cameras, available on a few luxury vehicles.

"For consumers who want tech such as backup cameras, automakers are pleased to make that available," Shosteck said. "But backup cameras can cost as much as $2,000, and we believe that consumers should be able to make the choice of whether they want to pay for that technology or not."

In 2004, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered automakers to redesign power window switches to make it harder for children to accidentally operate them but rejected calls from safety advocates to mandate auto-reverse features, saying the redesign should stop most accidents.

Link: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article.../603100352/1014

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There are a couple of things about this bill that concern me.

Firstly, with older luxury vehicles, it is usually the repairs and maintenance on the luxury toys that result in an othewise perfectly good car being scrapped. Case in point, a recently traded in '93 Grand Marquis was flawless as far as the body, motor and mechanicals went, but it was the fact that two power windows weren't working, the a/c was dead and the power seat was locked in an uncomfortable position that resulted in the car being traded - and with a couple grand worth of repairs the car probably ended up in a scrap yard after we wholesaled it. If sensors and other safety items are made mandatory, then as these vehicles age the vehicles will depreciate rapidly and be scrapped earlier.

Secondly, and this is going to come across as a little heartless, but as we raise an idiot generation of drivers's and, worse, an idiot generation of children, we are going to have to accept the fact that $h! HAPPENS.

How ever did we survive our childhood? My parents had no magnetic locks on the cupboards - I did not poison myself. My school bus used to deposit me on the side of a busy highway and leave while I had to look both ways and cross the highway on my own - no mechanical arms with stop signs on the end, no traffic monitor who has to stand in the middle of the road with a stop sign, blocking traffic in both directions while little kids dawdle, shove and play in the middle of the road.

I am starting to sound like my grandfather, but kids need to be taught safety and driver's need to look behind their vehicle before they back up - better yet: NEVER DRIVE FORWARD INTO A PARKING SPACE IN THE FIRST PLACE, always back into it.

End of sermon. (Steps off soapbox.)

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Dear parents,

Watch your f@#king kids.


Everyone else



Should everyone else have to pay 300 dollars for negligent parents?

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I agree, people have to be held responsible for their own actions- in this case, parents must (as Fly so graciously and concisely put it) watch their children. It's a terrible thing, sad beyond words, for a child to die in car's rear blind spot or caught in a power window, but there are ways to avoid those things. The rear window lockout on so many newer cars is plenty, just make sure you use it. And make sure your kids aren't hiding/playing near cars- any cars, period. IMO, if they're old enough to be playing near parked cars without supervision, they're old enough to understand that if Mom or Dad catches them playing near cars, they're gonna get whupped.

This seems like another case of people wanting the government to save them when their common sense fails. :rolleyes:

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