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Safe Kids Worldwide Convenes First-Ever “Children in Autonomous Vehicles” Consortium

May 14, 2019
Autonomous Vehicles

Leading Experts Commit to Initiative to Focus on the Safety of Children in AVs

Washington, D.C.– In response to the rapid, transformational changes occurring within the automotive industry, Safe Kids Worldwide has convened a Consortium of pioneers to lead the way in a joint effort to protect children in autonomous vehicles (AVs). This group of innovative professionals and leading child and transportation safety experts will guide best practices, education, legislation and policies to help keep children under 13 safe in AVs.

Many children were injured or killed in the 1990s when front seat airbags were available to the market at a time when drivers believed it was safe to have their children in the front seat where they could be observed. These airbags proved beneficial for adults but had negative effects for children. Further tragedies were avoided when families and drivers were encouraged to put all children under 13 in a back seat.

“Safe Kids is committed to making sure the safety needs of children are considered as today’s new AV technology is developed,” said Torine Creppy, president of Safe Kids Worldwide. “AVs are currently being piloted on roads in nearly three dozen communities, in 16 states nationwide. By considering the unique needs of children early in the development of AVs, we have an historic opportunity to learn from the past and keep our most vulnerable passengers safe when it comes to this emerging form of transportation.”

The Children in AVs Consortium is an extension of a 2018 Blue Ribbon Panel of top-level safety and transportation experts organized by Safe Kids Worldwide. The 17-member panel released a report in October 2018 outlining a call to action and specific recommendations, including seeking the input of child safety experts throughout the AV development and design phases to ensure the safety needs of children under 13 were addressed.  

The Consortium will consist of two working groups (Policy, Legislation & Enforcement and Public Information & Education) that will begin the process of implementing the Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendations. Over the course of an 18-month effort, the Consortium’s network of specialists will ensure public information and education tools are designed to guide draft legislation, policy, enforcement and best practices for child AV occupants from birth to age 13.

“We are thrilled with the interest and enthusiasm we received for our effort to bring child passenger safety to the forefront of AV development,” said Creppy, who also chaired the Blue Ribbon Panel. “I’m extremely grateful to our top-notch experts who share our commitment to protecting kids while advancing the field.”

The Consortium is composed of top-level researchers, vehicle- and child-restraint manufacturers, law enforcement officers, consumer advocacy groups, communications experts, EMS and fire safety professionals, an attorney and public health organizations representing 17 U.S. states and three additional countries.

For more information on children in autonomous vehicles and a list of the Consortium members, visit SafeKids.org/kids-autonomous-vehicles.

About Safe Kids Worldwide

Safe Kids Worldwide is a nonprofit organization working to protect kids on the road, at home and at play. Preventable injuries are the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year, and almost every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 400 coalitions in the U.S. and with partners in more than 30 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Since 1988, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by nearly 60 percent. Working together, we can do much more to protect kids. Join our effort at safekids.org.