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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Most Dangerous Time of Year for Unattended Kids in and Around Cars is Summer

First-Ever Parent Survey Reveals Perceived Risks and Behaviors, Safety Tips Offered in Both English and Spanish

This summer, the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) is teaming with XM Satellite Radio, the National WIC Association, local health clinics, automobile dealers, and state highway safety offices to prompt parents to actively supervise their children in and around cars.

Hundreds of children suffer serious injury or death each year from vehicles backing out of driveways, being trapped in hot vehicles or in car trunks, being choked by power windows, in vehicles inadvertently put in motion by children moving the shift lever, and similar types of incidents. ACTS reports they know of at least 100 of these incidents in the U.S. and Canada this year.

"Active parental and caregiver supervision is the key to saving children's lives and preventing injuries," said Phil Haseltine, ACTS president. "It's important for parents to realize that one out of 10 motor vehicle-related child fatalities occur off the public streets, in places like driveways and parking lots. A common thread in these tragedies is that they almost always involve an unattended or unsupervised child."

Recently, ACTS put forth the results of a first-of-its-kind parent survey of 900 parents of children ages 12 and younger. The survey revealed that:
• Most parents believe the risks to children left unattended in and around cars to be low.
• Two thirds of parents believe it unlikely or that a child in their neighborhood might perish from heat after being left alone in a car.
• Less than half (46%) felt it was likely that a child in their neighborhood might be struck by a car backing out of a driveway.
• 44 percent of parents surveyed know someone whose child was stuck by a car.
• Almost 9 out of 10 parents (87%) strongly agreed it is imperative that parents should do a better job of supervising their children in and around cars.

The survey also revealed that most parents are taking action to protect their children in and around cars:
• In general, parents usually hold a child's hand in a parking lot until the child is at least 7 1/2 years old.
• Most parents keep their children in a safety seat or booster seat until they are 6 1/2 years old.
• 90 percent of parents say they have never left a child under five alone in a car.
• Three out of five parents say the same about a child under 12.

"Our research shows that most parents do a pretty good job of supervising their children," said Haseltine. "But with the onset of summer, kids spend more time outdoors and temperatures rise quickly in enclosed vehicles. Parents and caregivers need to be vigilant and actively supervise children, particularly when they are in or around a motor vehicle."

The following pointers can help keep children safe in and around motor vehicles:
• Observe - Walk all the way around your car before getting in. Be sure to know where your children are and teach them to move away from a vehicle once it has started.
• Hold Hands – The majority of parents hold their child's hand around streets, driveways and parking lots until the child is at least 7 1/2 years old.
• Buckle Up - Set a good example and don't move the car until your children are properly restrained as well.
• Supervise - Nine out of 10 parents say they have never left a child under five alone in a car. Yet all agree that children need more supervision.
• Know your choices - New safety technologies can keep kids safer around cars. Choose a device that is right for your family and try it before purchasing to make sure they meet your expectations.

Safety tips, a more thorough Parents Report, and other information will be available in both English and Spanish on ACTS new dedicated website:

Schools, parents and communities can learn more about driver education and safety at America's Driver License Headquarters Try a Free DMV Practice Test online!

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The National Safety Commission, Inc.
PO Box 3359
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-3359

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