The US Federal Aviation Administration is planning a new regulation requiring children younger than 2 years to ride in approved child-restraint seats on airplanes.
To estimate the annual number of child air crash deaths that might be prevented by the proposed regulation, the threshold proportion of families switching from air to car travel above which the risks of the policy would exceed its benefits, and the cost per death prevented.
Risk and economic analyses.
Child-restraint seat use could prevent about 0.4 child air crash deaths per year in the United States. Increased deaths as a result of car travel could exceed deaths prevented by restraint seat use if the proportion of families switching from air to car travel exceeded about 5% to 10%. The estimate for this proportion varied with assumptions about trip distance, driver characteristics, and the effectiveness of child-restraint seats but is unlikely to exceed 15%. Assuming no increase in car travel, for each dollar increase in the cost of implementing the regulation per round trip per family, the cost per death prevented would increase by about $6.4 million.
Unless space for young children in restraint seats can be provided at low cost to families, with little or no diversion to automobile travel, a policy requiring restraint seat use could cause a net increase in deaths. Even excluding this possibility, the cost of the proposed policy per death prevented is high.