Bill could force automakers to confront safety hazard blamed for dozens of child deaths a year

“The Modernizing Seatback Safety Act can finally bring to an end the nightmare of seatback failures that has plagued thousands of families over the last half century,” Levine said, adding that families like the Warners “should never have had to suffer from decades of auto industry delay and the government’s unwillingness to upgrade the seatback design standard.”

 July 4, 2020

By Megan Towey, Kris Van Cleave

Ten years after losing their 16-month old daughter, Taylor, Andy and Liz Warner still struggle with their loss.

“Somedays are harder than others,” Liz told CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave. “Some days I can, you know, get through it and other days I get very emotional.”

Taylor was in a car seat behind her father in the car’s minivan when they were rear-ended going 55 miles per hour. Andy’s seat broke and collapse backwards, killing Taylor.

“She had about six weeks when she was toddling around, and then it was over,” Liz told us when we first spoke to the Warners five years ago. “And it was all because of some stupid car that we thought was the safest thing we could get for our family to protect them.”

What happened to Taylor was not unique. A CBS News investigation that first aired in 2015 revealed that when hit from behind, car front seats may break. Their occupants propelled, forcefully, into the rear seats where children usually sit. Hundreds of children have been injured or killed by collapsing seat backs, as crash tests have shown for decades. We found examples in nearly all car makes and models. Auto safety experts blame a seatback safety standard dating back to the 1960’s that regulates seat strength, one even a banquet chair could pass.

This week, Markey along with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut introduced the Modernizing Seatback Safety Act, which would force auto makers and the National Highway Transportation Administration, or NHTSA, to strengthen seat standards within two years.

Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, says the time for assessment has passed.

“The Modernizing Seatback Safety Act can finally bring to an end the nightmare of seatback failures that has plagued thousands of families over the last half century,” Levine said, adding that families like the Warners “should never have had to suffer from decades of auto industry delay and the government’s unwillingness to upgrade the seatback design standard.”

Read the full article from CBS News.