New Airline “Safety” Proposal – As Deadly As Ever

Washington, D.C., August 13, 2010 – The National Transportation Safety Board is reportedly recommending, once again, that airlines require separate seats for all children, regardless of age. CEI today condemned this proposal as a feel-good measure that would actually increase transportation fatalities.

CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman, who has testified on this issue, stated: “The NTSB is once again pushing this deadly proposal for no good reason. An unrestrained lap baby in a plane is far safer than a buckled-up child in a car. Right now, parents with young children can choose how to fly. If this choice is taken away from them, let’s not pretend it’s in the name of safety.”

Under current federal law, children under the age of two are exempt from the requirement that every airline passenger must be in a seat. Many parents choose to buy tickets for their young children, so they can be certain of being able to use a child safety seat. But other parents save money by having their young kids fly free on their laps. A federal rule banning such “lap babies” would effectively raise the cost of flying for young families.

A number of studies have shown that eliminating the lap baby option would cause many young families to drive rather than fly. However, the fatality rate in cars is far higher than that in airplanes. In fact, it is so much higher that the net result of the NTSB’s proposal would be to increase traffic deaths. The NTSB itself admits that, in certain cases, diverting passengers from flying may lead to increased risks in other modes of travel. For this reason, the NTSB’s child seat recommendation has been rejected in the past.

See Sam Kazman’s commentary: “Air Safety versus Highway Deaths.”