Escape Tip

Escape Tip is an inherently obvious automotive safety idea. The purpose of the Escape Tip is to provide all occupants of a vehicle the means to break a side window glass if needed. This technique is suggested by every credible safety expert in the field when asked how to escape a sinking vehicle. The Escape Tip is a slight modification to the standard automotive seatbelt latchplate. If made available in all new cars, death by vehicle immersion and entrapment will be significantly reduced.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mary Kay Kidwell asks NHTSA to consider the effects of a pending ruling

Louis Molino

Safety Standards Engineer
Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Office of Crashworthiness Standards, NVS-112, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE,
Washington, DC 20590

Mr. Molino.

Please do not solve the "ejection" issue by installing even stronger glass in side windows. Strengthened side windows will result in increased fatalities among entrapment victims. How can you choose to sacrifice one group of victims for another, especially when most ejections are a result of not wearing seatbelts. Seatbelts save lives; that has been proven. Entrapment victims survive the initial crash because they are belted, but then they must escape quickly, through a side or back window, and this often requires breaking the glass. Stronger windows will cause these people to drown because they will be unable to escape.

I have researched vehicle immersion accidents for three years, since the drowning of my teenage grandson who could not escape from his sinking car. He would have survived if he'd had a glass-breaking tool and proper training in survival egress. His death is a devastating loss to our family. It has also become a terrible learning experience. Breaking a side window now is difficult enough with a tool or punch; strengthened glass will transform every vehicle into a tomb. Do you have any idea what it's like to drown? It is a horrible way to die. And in the case of vehicle immersion, it is preventable.

My research shows that approximately 10,000 vehicles go into water each year in the US. Most of those vehicle occupants survive because they escape immediately through a window. I've just completed a study of 54 accidents in which at least one occupant survived. The majority of these survivors are alive today because they went out a window, and many of them had to break the glass or rely on a passerby to do so. I'm sure the same theory applies to fire entrapment; quick exit is a must. For various reasons, windows will not always roll down; and when faced with the panic of landing in a lake, nose down due to the weight of the engine, murky water lapping at the door and keeping it closed, victims must exit via a window.

I am sure your goal is the same as mine: saving lives. But we must not sacrifice one group of people for another. Why is entrapment not as important as ejection? Is it because more people are ejected? Statistics are interesting and a good source for making a case. However, one life lost is one too many. I know; every day I think about my grandson and the 900 others who've perished since his death, and I wonder why these victims' lives are not as valued as those ejected from vehicles. Surely there are other options for solving the ejection issue. Options that will not kill hundreds of entrapment victims.

Thank you for listening. For more information on vehicle immersion, please go to my web site: And if you'd like to learn more about entrapment fatalities, I have hundreds of stories, all are heartbreaking.

Mary Kay Kidwell

Richmond, Indiana

P.S. Unlike the glass industry, I have nothing to gain financially by taking on this campaign. My only reward will be the satisfaction of knowing I've helped decrease vehicle immersion fatalities. And, I will know that my grandson did not die in vain.

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About Me

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Vehicle submersion accidents kill people nearly every day. I'm on a quest to make automobiles just a little safer. For the last decade, NHTSA (National Highway Traffic safety Administration) has been keeping extensive records as to the causes and outcomes of traffic accidents on this nation's roads. In that time, an average of 300 people have drowned each year trapped in their vehicles underwater. My friends and I want to change that by giving people a fighting chance to survive. I hope that you'll read more here and at the website