The Toronto Star
March 3, 2014
China's traffic regulator is preparing a proposal to make the use of child-safety seats in vehicles mandatory in the world's largest auto market.
China lost almost three times as many children in car accidents as the United States in 2012, even though it has fewer than half the number of vehicles.
Traffic accidents were the leading cause of death for children under age 14, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a research body under the cabinet.
The Ministry of Public Security, which oversees road safety, is researching the matter with the China Automotive Technology & Research Center, said Pan Zengyou, who heads the feasibility study.
Once the analysis is completed, the ministry will probably submit its proposal to the State Council for approval within months, he said.
"There is imminent need for China to include child passenger-safety requirements into the legal framework," Pan said in a telephone interview Thursday. "Any delay in this means more casualties and damages. Children's lives are hanging over our heads."
The Public Security Ministry didn't respond to requests for comment.
Mandatory use of child-safety booster seats, which can reduce stress to the neck and spinal cord in a crash, would bring China in line with the more than 50 jurisdictions worldwide that enforce their use.
Road safety is gaining importance as more of the country's 1.3 billion people climb the economic ladder and can afford cars.
The number of private passenger vehicles in China reached 76.4 million at the end of 2012, a nine-fold increase on the 8.45 million at the end of 2003, according to National Bureau of Statistics data.
As part of efforts to standardize equipment, CATARC, which administers the nation's crash tests, will include child-safety seats in its assessments, spokeswoman Liu Ying said Thursday, without providing details.
The proposal comes as Shanghai prepares to prohibit passengers under the age of 12 from sitting in front, starting Saturday. Child-safety seats will be recommended for those under age 4.
The Health Ministry's Center for Disease Control and Prevention started the country's first national campaign late last year to encourage the use of child seats, beginning in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
"The time has come to make it compulsory with rising awareness and consensus on this issue," said Duan Leilei, a doctor with the center working on the campaign.
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