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Why the emergency trunk release lever is important

Cars.com’s Matt Schmitz highlights the importance of the emergency trunk release lever.

A mandate in 2002 required all cars to feature a standard glow-in-the-dark trunk-release lever, which opens the trunk from the inside in the event of an emergency.

As many as 20 people die each year while trapped in a car trunk, where temperatures can rapidly rise to deadly levels.

Some are kidnapping victims, and others are children who become trapped inside while playing in the car.

Older cars — those manufactured prior to the 2002 regulation — are the culprits in most trunk deaths.

While no kids have lost their lives in a properly equipped new car since the mandate, nearly two-dozen have died in older cars.

Safety advocates recommend these measures for preventing a trunk-trapping tragedy:

• Consider buying a trunk-lever retrofit kit, which you can pick up for as little as 10 bucks.
• Teach children that car trunks are for cargo, not hide-and-seek.
• Always supervise youngsters in and around vehicles.
• Check the trunk right away if your child goes missing.
• Lock your car up and be sure keys and remote-entry devices are out of kids’ sight and out of reach.
• Keep the rear fold-down seats closed and locked to dissuade children from climbing into the trunk from inside the car.

It's important to ensure your car is equipped with an emergency escape lever.