The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its first-ever “Not-in-Traffic Surveillance 2007” report. It confirms that preventable deaths and injuries associated with motor vehicles happen every year, not only on public roadways, but on private driveways and in parking lots. NHTSA’s report estimates that thousands of tragic and costly vehicle incidents occurred in 2007 when backing over children and other pedestrians, as well as the closing of powerful automatic vehicle windows on necks and limbs of car occupants. Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, the national nonprofit organization advocating for child and automotive safety had this to say about the report:
This is an important day, one that has been long in coming. The release of this report solidifies once and for all that focus must be placed on the interaction of consumers and vehicles…..no matter where an incident takes place. These data confirm what parents and safety groups have known for years that too many children were being killed in their own driveways and nothing was being done about it.
The NHTSA report found that in 2007 alone, 221 people were killed in backover incidents, and 14,000 suffered injuries. An additional 393 fatalities and 20,000 injures were due to frontover incidents or being struck by a vehicle in some manner. It also concluded that an average of 588 fatalities happen annually involving passengers inside the vehicles where children are strangled to death by powerful rising windows, left in hot vehicles to die from hyperthermia, or perish from carbon monoxide poisoning and vehicle fires.
In 2007, NHTSA estimates there were 1,747 fatalities and 841,000 injuries in non-traffic incidents. This is a shocking number of deaths. Over 33 people die and 16,170 injures occur every week due to non-traffic incidents. Jacqueline Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a coalition of consumer and insurance groups working for improved safety laws observed:
Passage of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act in 2007 was the pivotal moment in changing how our society thinks about these terrible events.
KidsAndCars.org and the dozens of parents and family members who struggled with us for several years to pass this lifesaving statute are credited with its success. Without their courage and dedication, this official data would not be collected and vehicle safety standards for better rear visibility would never happen.
This legislation, among other key provisions, directed NHTSA for the first time to collect data about motor vehicle incidents that take place off the public roads and highways. For over a decade, KidsAndCars.org has been calling for the government to collect data about instances that take place off the public roads and highways. As we reported in a prior issue, the work of the group began when Janette Fennell and her family were involved in a near death trunk entrapment incident. Ms. Fennell quickly learned that there were no data available dealing with that type problem. That was because in most cases these incidents took place on private property such as driveways, garages, parking lots and the like.
The response by the government and the automakers was predictable. They collectively said: “no data, no problem.” As a result, Ms. Fennell then began building her own database to prove that indeed these incidents were not only taking place, but there was between a 20-25% trunk entrapment fatality rate. After successfully working towards the implementation of internal trunk releases, many other incidents that take place in and around motor vehicles on private property were brought to her attention.
As a result of Ms. Fennell’s dedication, KidsAndCars.org was born and the organization’s success has been based on data collection, public education and awareness, policy changes, regulations and survivor advocacy. Ms. Fennell, a dedicated safety advocate, had this to say:
My heart pours out to the thousands of families who have lost a loved one in these predictable and preventable non-traffic incidents. Those children who have been lost have always been the inspiration for our work. We know all too well that the human body cannot win in a confrontation with an automobile.
For additional information on this subject, visit www.KidsAndCars.org
Source: KidsAndCars Release
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