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11 Children Died in Car Trunks: NHTSA Announces Expert Panel To Study Trunk Entrapment

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

11 Children Died in Car Trunks: NHTSA Announces Expert Panel To Study Trunk Entrapment

NHTSA
December 1, 1998

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NHTSA 79-98
Tuesday December 1, 1998
Contact: Tim Hurd
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550

Alarmed by the number of recent tragic incidents involving children as well as kidnapping incidents involving adults, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D., today announced the creation of a panel of experts to examine the issue of trunk entrapment.

"If there is a way to prevent the death of even one child, it will make the work of this panel worthwhile," Dr. Martinez said. "Safety is President Clinton's highest transportation priority."

The panel is expected to develop recommendations by mid-1999 that will help reduce the number of entrapment-related deaths and injuries. Eleven children died over an extremely hot three-week period this summer after being trapped in car trunks.

Among other things, the panel is expected to study a range of possible solutions, including interior trunk latches, warnings or other means to prevent entrapments in the first place. The group also will assess the need for education programs to alert parents and children to the risks of trunk entrapment.

"We have an obligation to do the right thing about the trunk entrapment issue, not just something," said Dr. Martinez, whose leadership led to today's announcement.

The expert panel on trunk entrapment will be formed and chaired by Dr. Heather Paul, executive director of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. In her role as executive director of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, Dr. Paul oversees more than 245 state and local SAFE KIDS coalitions nationwide. The campaign works to reduce the risk of unintentional injuries to children.

The remainder of the panel, to be announced later by Dr. Paul, will include safety advocates and child behavioral experts along with representatives of the medical, law enforcement and automotive industry communities.

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