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Organization questions traffic administration's child surveillance report

A group seeking to warn the public about the dangers that motor vehicles pose to children has praised and criticized the first-ever federal report on the topic.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the federal agency's report regarding the issue.

Titled "Not-in-Traffic Surveillance 2007 - Children," the report confirms that reportable deaths and injuries associated with motor vehicles happen with regularity every year, not only on public roadways, but in private driveways and in parking lots.

The NHTSA report estimates that thousands of tragic incidents occurred in 2007 due to children being backed over, automatic vehicle windows closing on necks and limbs of car occupants, and by children being left alone in hot vehicles, according to the group.

"The release of this report solidifies once and for all that attention must be focused on making cars safer for children ... no matter where an incident takes place," said Janette Fennell.

Fennell is the founder and president of, a national non-profit organization advocating for child and automotive safety.

"Data confirm what parents and safety groups have known for years - that too many children are being killed in their own driveways and parking lots by the very people who love them the most and nothing was being 'done to prevent these needless tragedies,' indicated Fennell

The federal agency's report identified heat stroke as the number one cause of death when children are left alone inside motor vehicles.

But the independent organization claims that the traffic administration data undercounted the actual number of children who die in the designated manner.

"Their message is correct, but the data appears to be understated," said Fennell. "Our data confirms an average of 37 hypethermia fatalities per year, not the 27 estimated by the agency. It's important for the public to clearly understand the magnitude of this issue."

According to the organization's statistics, one child dies every 10 days in the United States due to vehicular hyperthermia.

The release of the NHTSA report is timely, pointed out the group.

Six children have already died in the U.S. in 2009 due to heat stroke inside a vehicle, continued the organization.

In one case, an inquisitive toddler reportedly died after entering his mother's vehicle in Rhode Island.

In another incident, a 4-month-old died in California after his father purportedly forgot to drop off the baby at day care.

"Numerous solutions exist today to help prevent these tragedies and hopes the government will work diligently and as quickly as possible to put the regulations and education programs in place to make these types of injuries and deaths a thing of the past," concluded Fennell.

For additional information regarding the significant dangers children face in and around motor vehicles, Carbon County residents with Internet access may visit­

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