On February 28, 2008, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act was signed, which requires the Department of Transportation to issue regulations with the goal of reducing non-traffic injury and death to children in and around vehicles.
The new law is applicable to all light motor vehicles and focuses on three areas: power-window safety, rearward visibility, and vehicle roll-away prevention. Auto makers will be required to include features to meet new performance standards and can draw from technologies that already exist on some current models.
Power-Window Safety —
Power-window strangulation is a tragic incident with a simple solution. The Gulbransen Law gives the Secretary of Transportation eighteen months to consider amending FMVSSs to require power windows and panels to automatically reverse when they detect an obstruction.
Back-over incidents are on the rise in recent years and now account for about half of all non-traffic deaths to children under fifteen. The “blind zone” behind vehicles makes it impossible to see objects, including small children who may have wandered behind the vehicle. (Two-year-old Cameron Gulbransen, the law’s namesake, was killed in such an incident.) According to the new law, within three years a rearward visibility performance standard, which may vary by type of vehicle, must be in place. To meet this standard, vehicles would need to provide drivers with a means of detecting the presence of an object or person behind the vehicle. Technologies already available in some models that would meet this performance standard include visual aids such as cameras and special mirrors, audio warnings, and digital displays showing the distance of objects.
Vehicle Roll-Away Prevention—
Another simple technology that can reduce injuries and death is the “brake transmission shift interlock,” or BTSI, already used in some vehicles. This feature makes it necessary to depress the brake before the vehicle can be shifted out of “park,” far reducing the likelihood of roll-away incidents. The Gulbransen Law will require a BTSI to be included in all automatic transmission light motor vehicles manufactured for sale after September 1, 2010.
Database and Information Program—
Additionally, the law requires a federal safety information program on these subjects, as well as the creation of a federal database for statistics on injury and death in non-crash, non-traffic incidents. Until now the only database on these incidents was the one maintained by Janette Fennell of the private, nonprofit KidsAndCars.org.