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Kids And Car Safety
Kids And Car Safety By Royal Ford, Contributor
It was a horrific story that thankfully ended well. It reaches back to 1995 when Janette Fannell, her husband and infant son, returning home on an October night, were kidnapped, the parents forced at gunpoint into the trunk of their car and the child abandoned in his car seat. Taken to a remote area, they were robbed and then locked in the trunk, left to die.
Vehicle Blind Zones
For an hour, they tore at the trunk’s inner linings, finally finding a way to open the trunk - something no child could have done. Their son was gone from the car, but after help arrived and took them home, they found their son there, dropped off by the kidnappers. One kind act performed by depraved thieves.
You know those glow-in-the-dark interior pull latches that dangle inside your trunk and are so simple even a child can be taught to use them? Thank Janette Fannell for them, who after living through that terrible ordeal, fought federal bureaucracy to make them mandatory equipment in all automobiles.
But the story does not end there. Fannell is the founder and president of Kids and Cars , and the list of federally mandated legislation they have backed grows by the year.
Right now, her battle is against a steady increase in hyperthermia deaths of children left alone in cars on moderate to blazing hot days.
You’ve read the tabloid headlines: “Mom Boozes While Baby Girl Bakes in Car.”
Wait a minute, says Fannell. In 1990-92, just before airbags became abundant, 11 children under 15 died of hyperthermia in a car. Then airbags started killing kids strapped into the front seat and in 1996 airbag deaths of children reached a peak at 66. So we started strapping kids in the back seats (or in too many cases, not strapping them) and the numbers of deaths took off, averaging 36 per year in the past decade.
So it wasn’t boozing moms or out-with-the-boys fathers who were killing these children. In fact, a full 51 percent of these deaths resulted from frazzled forgetfulness by parent who did not remember they had a child in the back seat, thanks to the new location of their car seats.
How can something like this happen? Usually, one parent or the other’s routine is interrupted; they don’t usually drive the baby to the sitter, the kid to school. The youngster falls asleep, is forgotten because they are not part of the daily drive, and are trapped in the car.
Only 18 percent of these deaths occur among children left behind intentionally. Thirty percent are among children playing in unattended cars.
“This issue has everything to do with how our memories work,” Fannell says.
Records kept by Kids and Cars show it has happened to a CEO, pediatrician, NASA scientist, firefighter, doctor and vice principal at a middle school.
Fannell’s mission: educate parents with ideas such as placing a necessary item from your daily routine in the rear with the child: ...
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