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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 27, 1999
                           February 27, 1999

In his radio address today, President Clinton will announce a major step to protect our children -- a new rule requiring a single standardized system for installing child safety seats in cars and light trucks. Under the rule, all new child seats will have three standard attachments -- one on top and two at the base -- and all new cars and light trucks will have standard anchors in the back seat designed to link to these child seat attachments. The rule is expected to prevent as many as 50 deaths and 3,000 injuries of children each year.

Current System Puts Children at Risk
Child safety seats are the most effective safety device to protect very young children traveling in automobiles. When properly installed, they reduce the risk of death or serious injury to infants by 70 percent, and they cut the fatality and injury rate for children aged 1 to 4 in half. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), child safety seats are not properly installed over 70 percent of the time, subjecting children to needless risk of death or injury. With over 100 models of child seats and 900 models of passenger cars now on the road, some car seats simply do not fit safely in some vehicles. And even when child safety seats can fit properly in a vehicle, installation methods are often time-consuming and difficult, and the wide variety of these methods confuses many parents.

New Standardized System Will Save Lives The new rule will require all new child safety seats to have three standard attachments, one on top and two at the base. The rule also will require all new vehicles to have two sets of standard anchors installed in the back seat that will link to the child seat attachments. The anchors in the vehicle will be clearly visible and easily accessible, and parents will be able to attach child seats safely to the anchors in a matter of moments. The rule will be phased in over a period of three years; in the interim, new child seats will remain installable with seat belts, to ensure compatibility with older vehicles. According to NHTSA estimates, this new standardized system for installing child safety seats, when fully phased in, will save as many as 50 children from death and 3,000 children from injury every year.

New Rule Builds on Prior Efforts to Promote Safety on the Road This new rule is the latest in a series of actions by President Clinton to promote safety on the road. In May 1995, the Administration launched a comprehensive plan to preserve the benefits of air bags while eliminating their risks. In June 1995, the President called on Congress to pass legislation requiring all states to pass zero-tolerance laws for youth who drink and drive; a few months later, Congress passed that legislation, the President signed it, and today all states have zero tolerance laws. And in November 1998, the Administration announced a Blue Ribbon Passenger Safety Panel that will recommend strategies to increase the use of booster seats for children 4 to 8 years and the use of seat belts for children 8 to 16 years.