Senator Clinton, Child Safety Advocates Join to Help Families Protect Children in and Around Vehicles During the Holidays

By:  Hillary Clinton
Date: Dec. 30, 2005
Location: New York, NY

Senator Clinton, Child Safety Advocates Join to Help Families Protect Children in and Around Vehicles During the Holidays

Release 15 important tips for keeping children safe around cars

As the Holiday Season continues, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton joined with child safety advocates today in releasing recommendations for parents and families to keep children safe in and around motor vehicles, with a reminder that it is especially important to look out for children around cars during this time of year, when people are home for the holidays. Tragically, at least 217 children have died already this year in nontraffic incidents, which represent an unprecedented 31% increase over 2004 fatalities.

"While parents are mindful of their kids all year round, it's especially important to look out for them during this time of year, when more children are home from school for the holidays," Senator Clinton said. "With all the hustle and bustle of shopping, family gatherings and celebrating, it's easy to lose track of kids, if only for a moment. This is particularly dangerous when they are playing games in the driveway or enjoying the snow in the front yard, as many parents across New York and America know all too well. These tragedies are heart-wrenching, not only due to the unimaginable suffering these families endure, but because they are preventable."

"The holidays have already been fraught with the type of incidents Senator Clinton is working so hard to prevent. On Christmas Eve, a Wisconsin mother inadvertently backed over her 6-year-old daughter. She thought she had driven over a snow bank; not realizing until later that she had hit the child. The little girl was playing inside the house with other children when the mother was leaving to purchase candy, but apparently ran outside and behind the vehicle not wanting to be left behind. Another tragic incident took place on Christmas Day in New Mexico when a 15-month-old girl left the house undetected while an extended family member was backing out of the driveway. On Tuesday in California, a little 3 year-old was killed when an SUV rolled over her in the family's driveway. These incidents and the thousands of others that happen each year can be prevented with existing technology," said Janette Fennell, Founder of KIDS AND CARS.

Since 1999, at least 1,000 children, mostly under the age of 4, have been killed in non traffic incidents. Tragically, the children are being killed in several ways:

• Backing over incidents, because drivers, including parents, cannot see that a child is behind the moving vehicle;

• Rollaway incidents, because children can move the transmission shift lever out of park and into gear on certain passenger vehicles and light trucks; and by

• Power window entrapment, because children get trapped and strangled.

Earlier this year, Senator Clinton joined with her colleague Senator John E. Sununu (NH) to introduce the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act of 2005 (S. 1948), named after a two year old Long Island boy who was killed when his father accidentally backed over him. To prevent child deaths in backing incidents, S. 1948 provides for a rearward performance standard to ensure that drivers can detect the presence of a person or object behind the vehicle. To eliminate child deaths in rollaway incidents, S. 1948 requires that the vehicle service brake must be engaged in all ignition key positions before the automatic transmission can be shifted into gear. Finally, to reduce child deaths and injuries due to power window entrapment, S. 1948 adopts automatic window reverse technology, similar to the technology on millions of home garage doors, to stop the window from closing when an obstruction is detected. The bill sets a reasonable schedule for government rulemaking and establishes a child safety information program as well.


1. Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
2. Know where your kids are. Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.
3. Teach your children to never stand behind vehicles, even if the car is parked. And teach children that "parked" vehicles might move. Let them know that they can see the vehicle; but the driver might not be able to see them.
4. Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle; enforce this rule by keeping toys and sport equipment out of the garage and driveway.
5. Consider installing cross view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear view video camera and/or some type of back up detection device.
6. Measure the size of your blind zone (area) behind the vehicle(s) you drive. A 5-foot-1-inch driver in a pickup truck can have a rear blind zone of approximately 8 feet wide by 50 feet long. A driver's blind zone in a large SUV is up to 40 feet long and 7 feet wide - the approximate size of a kindergarten class.
7. Be aware that steep inclines and large SUVs, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
8. Hold children's hands when leaving the vehicle.
9. Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can see the sidewalk, street and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveway. Pedestrians also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway.
10. Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
11. Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.
12. Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
13. Make sure all child passengers have left the car after it is parked.
14. Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.
15. Teach children that riding in a car is no safer than a carnival ride - sticking their hands, heads or any body part outside of the window is dangerous.


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