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Going for a ride

Here is something fascinating about the rented 2007 Nissan Altima I am driving around until my old car gets fixed: there is a glow-in-the dark trunk release switch, on the inside of the trunk.

Now, I'd like to believe that some helpful Nissan engineer just put that in as a convenient just-in-case feature, but let's be honest: auto manufacturers do not have a stellar record of incorporating safety features before they are mandated by law. So I am led to the near-inescapable conclusion that this thing is in there because enough people have gotten stuck in trunks -- either accidentally or intentionally -- that the feature was deemed necessary.

In fact, I'm fairly certain if I spent enough time researching it, I could find out some precise statistics on the occurrence.

Comments

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mrdankelly
Oct. 8th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
I think it has something to do with kids locking themselves in too. Largely though, I believe it's an anti-idiot device.
oilyrags
Oct. 8th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
Comes in handy when you want to ambush some motherfucker, too!
lietya
Oct. 8th, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC)
Small children, mostly. Yes, it's required by law, and it's because every so often some kid plays hide and seek in the trunk and Darwinizes itself.

I like to think of it as the Mafia Safety Feature, though. ;)
happinesstogo
Oct. 8th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
I also have that feature in my Toyota Prius. Which means when I transport people in the boot, I have to use extra duct tape and/or twine.
tritium
Oct. 8th, 2007 08:47 pm (UTC)
What a glorious age we live in. I spent about two minutes researching, and found...

1. Such trunk releases are required for all cars manufactured after 2002.

2. "Experts" "agree" that there were about 10-20 trunk-entrapment cases each year.

3. According to the NHTSA and CDC, the estimates aren't crazy, but ignore the fact that most trunk entrapment is intentional:

There are only a few studies and samples of trunk entrapment. On December 4, 1998, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a paper in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, titled, Fatal Car Entrapment Involving Children -- United States, 1987 - 1998. The source of information for the CDC paper was the LEXIS-NEXIS database. The CDC used the LEXIS-NEXIS database to search for media reports (newspapers, magazines, wire services, and broadcast transcripts) of motor vehicle trunk entrapments involving death(s) of children. The CDC reported that a total of 19 children six years of age or less died in nine incidents of motor vehicle entrapment from 1987 to 1998; an average of approximately 2 child deaths and one incident each year. The cause of death for all children was either hyperthermia (heat stroke) or a combination of hyperthermia and asphyxiation.

On December 15, 1998, NHTSA received a spreadsheet and a brief documentation file from the Trunk Releases Urgently Needed Coalition (TRUNC). TRUNC is an organization whose mission is to make it mandatory for all automobile manufacturers to install a trunk release device inside the trunk of their vehicles. At that time, the TRUNC file included 703 records, reports of trunk entrapments in the United States and Canada, restricted to cases of victims who were alive when they entered the trunk. In the category of unintentional trunk entrapment TRUNC listed 20 fatalities in 10 incidents: 19 children and a 77 year old who was trapped in the trunk while installing speakers. The largest available database on intentional trunk entrapment involving criminal activity resides with TRUNC.

The TRUNC spreadsheet shows 137 fatal incidents of criminal trunk entrapment. The spreadsheet also shows a total of 147 deaths associated with criminal trunk entrapment. Half of all fatal cases are reported to have occurred during the years 1991 through 1998.


So, to sum up: between 1987 and 1998 (11 years), there were 703 incidents of entrapment (about 64 a year), 10 accidents resulting in death (about 1 a year), with a grand total of 20 accidental deaths (about 2 a year). In addition, there were 137 criminal incidents (about 12 a year) for a total of 147 deaths (about 13 a year).

Also: there are ways to escape from a trunk even without a pull. The trunk release cord usually goes right through the trunk, either on the side or under the spare tire kit. You can yank on that to get out. Speaking of the spare tire kit, a tire iron can also be helpful in getting you out. Additionally, most sedans allow the back seats to fold down, connecting the trunk to the passenger compartment.
hipsterdetritus
Oct. 8th, 2007 09:15 pm (UTC)
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Sign me up!
lucifrix
Oct. 10th, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)
Free on the internet--your tax dollars at work, baby!
elston
Oct. 8th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC)
See, that's why you gotta make sure the punk rat's dead before you stuff 'em in the trunk.
so_crates
Oct. 9th, 2007 06:12 am (UTC)
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Sign me up!

MMWR is famous for being the venue for the first medical paper on AIDS. On June 5, 1981, it published a brief report titled "Pneumocystis pneumonia — Los Angeles," which provided clinical details on some of the earliest known cases of AIDS.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MMWR
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Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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