Florida highway safety a top priority for federal government

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairperson Debbie Hersman recently met with a group of editors from the Tallahassee Democrat to discuss the agency’s concerns about the high rate of serious and fatal car accidents in Florida. Child safety sits atop her agenda for positive highway safety changes she’d like to help bring to the Sunshine State.

Older child booster-seat laws are needed in Florida

Hersman is concerned that Florida has no booster-seat requirements for children under the age of eight who no longer use car seats for infants and toddlers. While 47 states have enacted booster-seat laws in conformity with the NTSB’s recommendations, Hersman sees Florida’s failure to pass such a law as a serious shortcoming in the protection of Florida’s youngest passengers.

Hersman is not only the chair of the NTSB, but also a certified child-safety-seat technician. She explains, “Seat belts are made for adults. They are not made for kids.” The chairwoman cited studies concluding that children without booster seats are more frequently the victims of neck and spinal cord injuries than those who use them.

Also needed: Laws restricting teens from talking and texting while driving

Hersman also views teenage drivers as a segment of the population that could greatly benefit from the passage of new laws.

The NTSB advocates the creation of state laws that restrict teenage drivers from talking on cell phones or texting while driving. Car accidents remain the leading cause of death for people between 15 and 20 years of age, and safety advocates reason that inexperience becomes especially deadly when coupled with distractions.

Hersman believes that restricting the number of young passengers teen drivers can have in their vehicles could also significantly reduce motor vehicle fatalities on Florida’s highways. She hopes that Florida will see such requirements written into law during 2011.

Source: The Tallahassee Democrat, “Transportation Safety Issues bring Chair to City,” February 9, 2011