Congress clears bill to cut auto-related deaths
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate on Thursday approved and sent to President George W. Bush legislation aimed at reducing "backover" auto accidents that are particularly dangerous for children.
The measure also requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to study potential safety hazards associated with power windows, and possibly issue a regulation that would require automakers to install windows that automatically reverse direction when blocked. This is also aimed at protecting young children.
Under the legislation approved unanimously, the NHTSA must within a year take steps toward improving the rear field of vision in automobiles so drivers can more easily see objects behind them when backing up. This could include more mirrors or cameras.
The bill also requires the government to collect data on backover and other incidents classified as non-traffic accidents. Safety advocates said U.S. backover accidents killed 474 children between 2002-06.
The House of Representatives approved the measure in December.
The legislation was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York. Key Republicans, including New Hampshire's John Sununu, also backed the measure.
Automakers said through their trade group that they supported the bill and promoted voluntary measures to address any new safety priorities.
Separately, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters proposed on Thursday that Congress let states use motorcycle safety grants to promote helmet use.
An avid motorcyclist, Peters was in a crash in 2005 and credits her helmet with helping to save her life.
Motorcycle deaths on U.S. roads topped 4,800 in 2006.
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