It’s a question that has been bandied about for years. Now it is about to resurface in a forum on child passenger safety to be held Dec. 9 in Washington by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The independent federal agency, which investigates transportation accidents and promotes safety, has long pushed for a rule requiring that all passengers be properly restrained in a separate seat, including children under 2 years old. The latest recommendation was sent to the Federal Aviation Administration in August, citing various crashes over the years in which children who were seated in car seats were protected and others in which children seated in a parent’s lap were injured or killed.
No one disputes that children would be safer aboard passenger jets when strapped in a car seat instead of being held in a parent’s lap. “Every single thing on that airplane down to the coffee pots are required to be properly restrained except children under the age of 2,” said Patricia Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. “It’s just physically impossible, no matter how much a parent loves that child, given deceleration forces of an aircraft in a crash to hold onto that child.”