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House Moves Children’s Car Safety Measure

On December 19, the House passed, by voice vote, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act (H.R. 1216), a bill to reduce the incidence of child injury and death inside and around motor vehicles. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bill on December 18, after adopting a substitute amendment by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed an identical measure (S. 694) on May 16.

Sponsored by Rep. Schakowsky, H.R. 1216 would require the secretary of Transportation to issue regulations to make mandatory power windows and panels that reverse automatically when an obstruction is detected, rearward visibility performance standards, and anti-rollaway systems for cars with automatic transmissions. In addition, the secretary would be required to establish a database of injuries and deaths in nontraffic, noncrash accidents involving cars and to provide consumer information about the dangers to children in such accidents.

Rep. Schakowsky said, “One of the most painful things I’ve been a part of as a member of Congress are the press conferences, which come about every six months or so in which parents and grandparents come to share pictures of their children and loved ones, some of whom they have accidentally killed by rolling over them with their vehicles. Imagine that for a moment, particularly in this time of year, as we wish to be with those we love the most…Unfortunately, since we first introduced H.R. 1216, well over 1,000 children have needlessly died in preventable accidents, and this year alone 200 children have died of back-over accidents. Many children are killed in these kinds of accidents each year without ever leaving their driveways, suffocated by unsafe power windows, backed over by cars with major blind spots, or hit because a car was accidentally put into motion by a child who could not control it. H.R. 1216 is commonsense, consensus legislation that reflects input from the auto industry as well as child safety advocates…Families want safe cars. They deserve these commonsense safety features. It is time that we make sure they get them.”

“I can’t imagine a more horrific circumstance for a family to go through, for parents to go through. And yet Dr. Gulbransen and Mrs. Gulbransen, they took this tragedy and opportunity to save the lives of other children throughout the nation,” said Rep. Peter King (R-NY). He continued, “So my heart goes out to them, but most importantly, today I thank them for the efforts [that] they have given. Cameron Gulbransen was a young man in my district who was tragically killed five years ago, and as Congresswoman Schakowsky said, every year we have more than 200 children killed, 200 children killed despite the best effort of their friends, of their neighbors. We’re not talking about negligence here. We’re not talking about people who are at all uncaring. We’re talking about people who took every possible safety measure, and yet in spite of that, these tragedies occurred.”

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