On Wednesday the National Transportation Safety Board urged the Federal Aviation Administration to require separate airplane seats for children under 2, who currently may sit on their parents' laps. The FAA has repeatedly rejected proposals to change the rule, noting that the cost of an extra seat will encourage some parents to drive instead, exposing their children (and themselves) to far greater risk. The upshot, the agency has concluded, would be a net increase in deaths.
"Statistics show that families are safer traveling in the sky than on the road," then-FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey said in 2005. "We encourage the use of child safety seats in airplanes. However, if requiring extra airline tickets forces some families to drive, then we're inadvertently putting too many families at risk." The FAA added that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration "supported the FAA's decision [to keep the current rule] based on current FAA and NHTSA studies that show a mandate could result in another 13 to 42 added family member fatalities over 10 years in highway accidents." Sam Kazman, general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, notes that the math has not changed.