As more than forty-three million Americans prepare for Thanksgiving road trips, federal lawmakers are demanding changes to vehicle safety



road trips, federal lawmakers are demanding changes to vehicle safety

regulations and calling for an investigation into carmakers.>

strength of the car seats. Transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave has

been exploring the concerns for more than a year now.>

GAYLE KING: As more than forty-three million Americans prepare for Thanksgiving road trips, federal lawmakers are demanding changes to vehicle safety regulations and calling for an investigation into carmakers. It`s all the result of an ongoing CBS News investigation into the strength of the car seats. Transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave has been exploring the concerns for more than a year now. He found that seats can fail in rear-end crashes and lead to serious injuries, or death.


(Begin VT)

HANNAH HASTINGS: We got hit and almost lost my baby. Sorry.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE (CBS News Transportation Correspondent): Three years later, Hannah Hastings still struggles to talk about the day she and her son Eli were rear-ended in their 2002 Ford Escort. As this crash simulation shows, the force of the collision caused Hastings` seat to collapse, launching her head first into her fifteen-month-old son. Eli spent more than a month in the hospital suffering brain damage, hearing loss and partial paralysis to one side of his face.

HANNAH HASTINGS: It`s kind of difficult, you know, especially for a mother, not knowing if your child`s ever going to say your name, say "mommy," ever again.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Our ongoing investigation has identified over one hundred cases where seatback collapses resulted in serious injury or death, mostly to children in the backseat. The industry has long known their seats do not hold up in many rear-end collisions. So has the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA. CBS News obtained this crash test conducted on behalf of NHTSA on a 1998 Ford Escort. The test was designed to check for fuel safety but watch what happens to the seats in a high-speed crash. They fail. Ford and other automakers say all seats meet or exceed the federal standard for strength, a standard written in 1967, that even this banquet chair passes.

MAN: Two hundred.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Today, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, as well as Representative Diana DeGette, are sending this letter to NHTSA, demanding the agency "take immediate action to remedy this significant seating system deficiency."

SENATOR ED MARKEY: I think because of CBS, because of this congressional investigation, the jig is up. They`re going to be forced now to take an action which they should have taken decades ago.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Markey`s office discovered some of the cases we found do not appear to have been properly reported to regulators by automakers.

SENATOR ED MARKEY: The law requires the auto industry to report any incident where a seatback has collapsed that caused a death or an injury.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: NHTSA tells CBS THIS MORNING it does not have the data to support changing the standard, while acknowledging the number of deaths caused by seatback collapse have likely been underestimated.

It makes it a lot harder to say there`s a problem if the carmakers aren`t reporting that there`s a problem.

SENATOR ED MARKEY: There`s a huge regulatory black hole within which the automotive industry is able to escape responsibility, because they do not report these accidents.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Other accidents don`t get reported to NHTSA because automakers aren`t required to if the car involved is more than ten years old. The Ford Eli was injured in was eleven.

HANNAH HASTINGS: If the seat did not collapse, he wouldn`t have suffered so much. He has to live with this for the rest of his life.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Automakers can face stiff fines for not properly reporting accidents and it`s an allegation NHTSA says it takes very seriously. The agency stresses the safest place for kids is the backseat. Auto industry engineers have admitted the cost of fixed seatbacks could be on the order of a dollar or so.

For CBS THIS MORNING, Kris Van Cleave, Washington.

(End VT)

GAYLE KING: Special thanks to Kris Van Cleave for doing the series and raising these questions that will, hopefully, now lead to changes.

JOSH ELLIOTT: Such important reporting. Really great.

GAYLE KING: I didn`t even know that it was possible the way those seats jerk back that way.

JOSH ELLIOTT: Yeah, and the stunning thing is the carmakers did.


JOSH ELLIOTT: Well, even astronauts in orbit will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Ahead, the commander of the International Space Station previews the turkey and all the fixins hundreds of miles above the earth. But, first, it is seven-forty-six, time to check your local weather.



SHANE KIMBROUGH (Astronaut): Happy Thanksgiving from the International Space Station. I hope everyone`s going to have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year with family and friends. It`s going to be a little bit different for us up here in space but I`m going to try to make it as much like home as-- as we can.

JOSH ELLIOTT: That is NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough delivering a holiday message from space and he shared a preview of what will, in fact, be on the space station`s Thanksgiving menu.

SHANE KIMBROUGH: Our food`s a little bit different, so here`s our turkey right here. So it`s going to be in a pouch, we`ll heat this up and it will taste really good just like you`re having at-- at home. We got cherry blueberry cobbler for dessert. So that`s going to be awesome.

JOSH ELLIOTT: Funny how it all looks the same.

GAYLE KING: Wow. Yeah.

JOSH ELLIOTT: The six-person crew, more than two hundred and fifty miles above the earth will also still get to watch some football, thanks to a live feed from mission control.

GAYLE KING: He`s got a great attitude. He actually said with a straight face and it`s going to taste real good.



GAYLE KING: Turkey in a packet.

CHARLIE ROSE: Well, he knows.

JOSH ELLIOTT: Not a lot-- not a lot of cleaning to do--

GAYLE KING: You`re right, Charlie. He knows. And no cleaning, always good. After the Thanksgiving turkey, it may be time to focus on holiday shopping. Ahead, Target CEO will share the retailer`s strategy for one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Brian Cornell is back. He`ll also talk about his plans to complete-- to compete, rather, online with Amazon. He`s in our greenroom with-- who is that? Doctor David Agus. Hello to you, too, who will talk about the lasting impact tomorrow`s big dinner could have on your tummy. You`re watching CBS THIS MORNING. We`ll be right back.


*************************************************************************** ** (8:00 AM, EDT) END

(Copy: Content and programming Copyright MMXVI CBS Broadcasting Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2016 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.)