On February 14th, 2008, the United States Senate unanimously passed H.R. 1216, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007. It was seen as a measure intended to protect children from the dangers of motor vehicles, specifically in non-traffic situations, and was potentially the beginning of new vehicles being required to include a back up camera system.
The law, which was passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote in December of the previous year, demands that the Secretary of Transportation issue safety standards that will ensure a decrease in the incidence of vehicle-caused child injury and death. Specifically, it demands three ways to increase child safety:
-Ensuring power windows can automatically reverse when they detect an obstruction.
-Requires that a vehicles brake be engaged in all key positions and gears, preventing an accidental gear shift from allowing the vehicle to roll away.
-Create a rearward visibility standard with the intention of preventing backing incidents. This standard is intended to establish obligations for different types of vehicles, requiring additional mirrors, sensors, or a back up camera system.
The bill was named after 2-year old Cameron Gulbransen, who was killed by an SUV whose driver was unable to see him because of the vehicles blind zone. The boy's father, Dr. Greg Gulbransen, was quoted as saying the bills passing into law "represents the accumulation of hard work, dedication and commitment by everyone affected by these preventable tragedies."
"When implemented, the provisions of the bill will make vehicles much safer for all American families." Since 1999, approximately 1,000 children have been killed in non-traffic incidents, a statistic that had been steadily rising. Additionally, it had been reported that back overs accounted for over half of all non-traffic fatalities involving children.
Because of these shocking and horrific statistics (likely much higher, since the federal government did not collect data about non-traffic incidents at this point), legislation was pushed by a tremendous bi-partisan effort in both Houses of Congress, led by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Senator John Sununu (R-NH). Unfortunately, the bill was initially shelved for later discussions.
However, in early 2008 the bill was passed, and just a few short months later President George W. Bush signed it into law.
"With today's Senate passage, the Congress has spoken clearly - the safety of our children is a top priority," said Janette Fennel, president of KIDS AND CARS. "This measure will help prevent the type of tragedies similar to the one that took Cameron's life and the thousands of serious injuries that happen to children every year. Valentine's Day of 2008 will never be forgotten by the parents who have suffered the unimaginable and have worked so hard to make the world a safer place for children in and around motor vehicles."
Besides Clinton and Sununu, the bill gathered support from KIDS AND CARS, Consumers Union, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids in Danger, and Public Citizen.
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