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How Safe Are Small Children on Airplanes?

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peterToday, Peter Greenberg went on CBS This Morning to discuss the safety of small children on airplanes. He was joined by former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) director Deborah Hersman, who has been advocating changes in safety regulations for many years.

Currently, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations state that children under the age of two can fly for free if they’re sitting on an adult’s lap. As a result, 85 percent of parents hold their children during flights, often as a matter of convenience—and cost.

The truth is, this regulation is 50 years old, and dates back to a time when seat belts were not required in cars.

On July 19, 1969, United Airlines Flight 232 made an emergency crash landing in Sioux City, Iowa after losing all of its hydraulics. Of the 296 people aboard the plane, 111 passengers survived, but 185 died.

Four children on the flight were held on the laps of their parents. Three were seriously injured, and one—who was 22 months old—was killed. An NTSB investigation found that when a plane is landing at such high speeds, no parent can keep a grasp on his or her child, and therefore the children become missiles.

The answer? Safety restraint seats for children under the age of two. If a child is between 0 and 20 pounds, he or she should be placed in a rear-facing safety seat, and if a child is between 20 and 40 pounds, he or she should be placed in a forward-facing seat.

In 2005, the FAA stated they would not require airlines to provide car seats for small children because it would cause the airlines to raise airfares. This, they argued, would cause more families to travel in their cars. Statistically, car travel has more accidents than any other form of travel.

To travel safely with small children, parents can bring car seats with them on the plane. While it may seem inconvenient, it’s still a much safer way to fly. As it turns out, car seats are tested for use on airplanes. If you check the label on the side, it will say that the car seat was approved by the FAA. When children outgrow their car seats around age 4 or 5, they can safely sit in an airplane seat by themselves.

Watch the video below to learn more:

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