For Immediate Release

Release No. AOC 30-05
August 25, 2005
Contact: Alison Duquette
Phone: 202-267-3883


WASHINGTON, DC — The Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that it will not mandate the use of child safety seats on airplanes because of the increased safety risk to families.

The agency said its analyses showed that, if forced to purchase an extra airline ticket, families might choose to drive, a statistically more dangerous way to travel.

The risk for fatalities and injuries to families is significantly greater on the roads than in airplanes, according to the FAA. Last year, nearly 43,000 people died on America's highways as compared to 13 on commercial flights.

"Statistics show that families are safer traveling in the sky than on the road," said FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey. "We encourage the use of child safety seats in airplanes. However, if requiring extra airline tickets forces some families to drive" then we’re inadvertently putting too many families at risk."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) supported the FAA's decision based on current FAA and NHTSA studies that show a mandate could result in another 13 to 42 added family member fatalities over 10 years in highway accidents.

As the nation's leading advocate for the use of child restraint systems, NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D., today said that NHTSA supports the FAA's decision. He said, "This is good public policy that is in the best interest of safety for the traveling public."

To encourage families who fly to use child restraint systems, the FAA is also broadening the categories of the types of systems that airlines can provide on aircraft by amending its regulations permitting the use of alternative child restraint systems to improve safety for children otherwise secured only with a lap belt.

Alternative child restraint systems must be approved by the FAA and provided by an airline, not passengers. Specifics are published in a final rule today and available at www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/ and on display at the Federal Register.

Airlines currently allow children under the age of two to fly free of charge as "lap children" and many airlines offer half-price tickets so parents can be guaranteed that their child can travel in a safety seat. The FAA continues to educate parents and encourages them to make informed decision about traveling with young children by providing helpful guidance at www.faa.gov/passengers.

An official FAA notice withdrawing the agency's rulemaking is also published today at www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/ and on display at the Federal Register.

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