Warning: I'm going to tick some of you off, and as usual, I don't really care. Just an FYI.
The harsh reality of why the car seat laws are of such a minimal nature, and downright awful in some places, is that the people who live in that particular State have called and whined to their State representatives that they don't want the government telling them how to raise their children.
So how do we change those laws? We need to have stories like yours, and people who have experienced the awful heartbreak of a child being injured, or worse killed, in car crashes due to the minimal nature of our State laws. These types of stories do a wonderful job of getting lawmakers to focus on fixing the laws rather than listening to those whiny constituents.
Who will you be up against? Anyone who rails against the "Nanny State". They believe it's the parents responsibility, blah, blah, blah... Well, quite frankly, precious few parents exercise a whole lot of informed responsibility when it comes to child passenger safety. They're much more worried about what other people will say, and their own convenience. Do we need tougher State laws? You betcha! Because the vast majority of the population won't do it on their own. They need a law to make them act responsibly.
As for Federal oversight... We've had precious little Federal oversight of ANYTHING as of late. From our food supply, to the safety of our children's toys, to Wall Street, the FAA, and even our pet's food. Hopefully we may see a renewed focus on Federal oversight by our regulatory agencies, and a depoliticization of those agencies. They're there to protect the people of the United States, and not to further someone's political agenda. They need to get back to the job at hand. Do I think a number of Federal regulatory agencies have become too close to the industries they regulate? Yes. Two such agencies have been busted for this so far this year. Do I think there are more? Yes. Time, intense scrutiny, and general house cleaning will tell, and is long overdue.
Good luck in your fight. The more national media attention that you can garner, the better. The more celebrities and politicians on the national stage you can get on your side and being very vocal about this important issue the better. You need a lot of big guns on your side who are not afraid to use the bully pulpit. You have to not be afraid of whose toes you step on, nor whom you offend, because you are going to to both. There is absolutely no way on earth that you can achieve your goals of strengthening the State laws in all 50 States, as well as convincing NHTSA and the car seat manufacturers to start allowing Swedish style RF car seats to be sold in the USA, without stomping on a lot of them.
You have a tough row to hoe, and I'm behind you 110%. Go get em!