July 22, 2004

More children killed last year by being backed over

Washington, D.C. – Child safety advocates ‘Kids and Cars’ released new statistics that show a sharp increase in the number of children killed and injured in ‘backover’ and power window incidents.

In 2003, at least 91 children were backed over and killed in the United States, a 57% increase from 2002. The statistics are compiled by Kids and Cars because the federal government does not track these types of non-crash incidents.

“The sharp rise in children killed by backovers and power windows is unnecessary and very disturbing,” Kids and Cars founder and president Janette Fennell said at a news conference Tuesday in the Capitol. “If Congress doesn’t act now in the transportation bill to approve these auto safety measures, the number of child deaths will only increase.”

Britt Gates, whose daughter was killed by a power window, attended the event and said, “I can barely describe the pain my family has gone through after losing our daughter to an unsafe power window. I hope that Congress remembers that these tragedies, which happen to unsuspecting families, are preventable.”

Other parents at the event included Dr. Greg Gulbransen, a pediatrician who lost his son in a backover incident, and Becky Hergatt, whose son narrowly escaped death from a power window.

The proposed auto safety measures are supported by a vast majority of Americans in a newly released Consumer’s Union poll, conducted May 12-17, which showed 82 percent of respondents would choose vehicles equipped with a backup warning device and safe power switches. The survey also found that 7 in 10 respondents said the government should require automakers to install these devices.

“Americans want cars that are safe for children, and more than 70 percent believe that laws should require this protection,” said Sally Greenberg, senior product safety counsel for the Consumer’s Union. “Automakers will sell you a DVD player in a vehicle for more than one thousand dollars, but won’t make available these safety features that are a fraction of the cost.”

The poll also found that 73 percent think the federal government should be collecting information on non-traffic, non-crash injuries and deaths in and around vehicles. Without tracking incidents, advocates say it is nearly impossible for the Federal transportation agency to understand the magnitude of the problems and to know about design flaws or safety omissions in vehicles.

The organization’s web-site is www.kidsandcars.org.

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