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U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Announces Standard to Require Internal Trunk Releases on Cars

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Announces Standard to Require Internal Trunk Releases on Cars

NHTSA
October 17, 2000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NHTSA 44-00
Tuesday, October 17, 2000
Contact: NHTSA, Tim Hurd, (202) 366-9550

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced a requirement that all passenger cars with trunks have a release or other automatic system inside to allow children or adults to escape. The requirement is effective Sept. 1, 2001.

"This requirement will help save the lives of children who get trapped in car trunks," Secretary Slater said. "There have been too many deaths of children caught in trunks in hot weather with no way out - this will provide them a means of escape."

Trunk entrapment involves both children trapped in trunks - often during play, pranks or other innocent circumstances - and adults trapped in trunks - generally as a result of criminal actions.

"This proposal will give children and others a chance to get out of the trunk alive," said National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Dr. Sue Bailey.

In the summer of 1998, 11 children died from exposure to heat after being inadvertently trapped in car trunks. A study released that year by the Centers for Disease Control documented a total of 19 cases of children ages 6 and under who died in car trunks between 1987 and 1998.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) new standard adopts the approach recommended by an expert panel NHTSA established in November 1998. The Expert Panel on Trunk Entrapment that Dr. Heather Paul of the Safe Kids Campaign chaired included experts on child psychology and behavior, safety advocacy, automotive engineering, vehicle manufacturing, law enforcement, the medical community and other groups.

The final rule establishes a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 401, Internal Trunk Release.

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