New laws to make cars more kid-friendly set to pass

My son asked what would happen if his finger were in the path of the electric window when it closed. I suggested we stick a piece of Red Vine licorice in the window to find out. The results weren't pretty, though to this day I'm still finding tiny bits of red licorice stuck in the channels of the window frame. Boys...

In a move aimed at preventing incidents like these in vehicles, a bill was sent to President Bush earlier this week with brand new safety regulations for automakers. Under the new bill, power windows would be required to automatically reverse themselves if resistance is encountered from a finger or, say, a Twizzlers. Some high-end automakers already include this type of window safety system in their vehicles, thought they are not currently mandated industry-wide.

A second provision says that there must be a minimum standard for driver visibility to the rear of the vehicle, presumably to help parents avoid backing up over Timmy's Big Wheel... or Timmy himself. Automakers could meet this new rule with additional mirrors, cameras, or sensors to the vehicle. New uses for Infiniti's Around View Monitor come to mind. The third and final provision is designed to prevent accidental shifting of vehicles out of park, and would likely turn your floor-mounted shifter into the auto-equivalent of a child-proof lighter.

The entire auto industry is reportedly behind the legislation and it's obviously already passed both houses of Congress, so analysts expect the President to sign it without any changes. While these new laws will undoubtedly make vehicles less dangerous for children, an alert driver still remains the most important piece in the safety puzzle.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]

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