Kelly Powell, Safe Kids Program Director at Community Partners of South Florida, has been appointed as the coordinator of the Safe Kids Worldwide first-ever Consortium for Children in Autonomous Vehicles for Public Information and Education. Safe Kids Worldwide convened the consortium in response to the rapid, transformational changes occurring within the automotive industry to protect children under 13 in autonomous vehicles (AVs). The consortium will develop guidance to inform legislation, policy, enforcement, education and best practices in this rapidly evolving field to make sure the safety of child passengers is considered and valued in the development of AVs.
The consortium is an 18-month volunteer effort comprised of top-level researchers, vehicle- and child-restraint manufacturers, law enforcement officers, consumer advocacy groups, communications experts, EMS and fire safety professionals, an attorney and public health organizations representing 17 U.S. states and three additional countries. As coordinator of the consortium’s Public Information and Education working group, Powell will help lead the effort on influencing the development of standardized messaging and use of consistent language and educational efforts to inform the nation’s frontline grassroots communicators on AVs. It is envisioned that once comfortable with advances in the field, consortium members could communicate their confidence that children have been considered, designed for and protected in AVs to end-users and consumers.
Powell’s work on the consortium is timely for the state of Florida as Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill in June 2019 that will allow self-driving cars without humans on all roads as long as the vehicles meet insurance and safety requirements outlined in the new legislation. The new law took effect July 1, 2019. Florida is the third state to allow people-free cars, following Michigan and Texas.
“I am very honored for this opportunity to be a part of the future of child passenger safety,” said Powell. “Autonomous Vehicles are here now and we need to make sure all child passengers are safe and protected in all vehicles.”
Powell has been with Safe Kids since 2001 and brought Safe Kids Palm Beach County to Community Partners of South Florida in 2009. Safe Kids is a community-based program that offers safety education and materials to families to decrease preventable injuries in children from 0 to 19. Besides child passenger safety, it offers educational resources on drowning prevention, home safety, pedestrian safety and bicycle safety.
“Kelly’s long-time experience as an advocate and expert on child safety will be a major asset as she takes on a global leadership role to protect children in AVs,” said Scott Hansel, CEO of Community Partners of South Florida. “Her life-saving work has made an impact on the families served by Community Partners and throughout Palm Beach County and we are extremely proud of her accomplishments that led to her appointment to the consortium.”