Special Guest Janette Fennell
Special Guest Janette Fennell discusses how her experience being kidnapped and locked into the trunk of her car led to her starting a non-profit that led to the Federal requirement for a trunk release cable. We also discuss the need for better systems to protect children from frontovers, backovers and being accidentally left inside cars.
Check out Janette’s organization at: kidsandcars.org
Gene Weingarten Pulitzer Prize winning article:
Links to a couple of PSA from England:
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note: this is a machine generated transcript and may not be completely accurate. This is provided for convience and should not be used for attribution.
Anthony: hey, everyone’s ready?
Michael: Yeah. I As ready as I’m, I usually am.
Anthony: All right. Good enough. All right. Today we are joined by our special guest Jeanette Fennell. She’s the founder of Kids in Cars. I, you can probably explain best what you do better than my stumbling through and reading over your website, but you can find out more at kidsincars.org. And Jeanette, welcome to the show.
Thanks for joining us.
Janette Fennell: I am so happy to be here with you guys. Thank you.
Michael: I just by way of introduction, we worked with Jeanette for decades now, I guess I would say. I know that I got to the center about 2000, almost immediately. Started working with Jeanette and her team on power window issues a long time ago.
And they are very similar to the center in many ways. Focusing on good data, on, on on car issues that affect children and. . It’s I would say that of all the nonprofit groups we work with, if nonprofits could have BFFs, kids and cars is probably our BFF, cuz we’re very similar, we’re very small.
We work on some really important issues that are in many ways some of them are misunderstood and misinterpreted by the public. And it’s issues where it’s hard to push. The government to do a lot on, but it’s really important that we do.
Anthony: Yeah. So I’m just gonna start off with something very, we’re gonna start off very light cause I know some of the stuff you work on is, gets very intense emotionally.
So this is, from my perspective, is very light. Cuz when I watch a lot of movies or TV shows, you always see a scene lately where the bad guy throws somebody in a trunk. And there’s no escape handle. And Michael and I were just talking about this and we’re like, this was not a 1973 Cadillac. Come on, these are modern cars.
They all have an escape handle and they glow in the dark. And so you and your organization were instrumental in getting this done, is that correct?
Janette Fennell: Yeah, that’s actually how we got started. And back in 1995, my husband and I and our little nine month old baby were kidnapped. We were living in San Francisco at the time.
And we were taken to a very secluded location where we were salted and robbed and basically left for dead in the trunk of our vehicle. This is where a little bit of that divine intervention comes in. And after our kidnappers had left us there, there was no light source. The car wasn’t running.
We didn’t have any idea where we. . But on the way over, when you think you’re gonna die, you get pretty resourceful. I had ripped out all the lining of the trunk. I thought, oh, I could, maybe get some of these wires to do something funny. Maybe a police officer would notice and pull us over, or maybe somebody would call 9 1 1 and said, something’s wrong with this car.
But, of course that didn’t happen. But by exposing all those wires again the divine intervention. Heres, I saw this light and I know Fred’s, the scientific engineering the really technical guy and there’s really no way, there could have been a light in Extron. There was no source anywhere.
But I saw it and I said to my husband, Hey, I think I upon the trunk release, and those words did not come from my brain, but they came from my mouth and. put his hands over my body and he fell around a little bit and he found that cable that engages when you’re in your car and pull that button and the drink go trunk goes pink.
He found that he pulled it and the trunk opened up just the same way as it would if you opened it from inside the vehicle. So of course I jump out of the back of the car, go to the back. and there is no baby, there is no car seat, obviously beyond the lowest point in my life. And we were then stuck with what are we, what are we gonna do?
So I kept saying, now let’s go home. Let’s go home. Maybe they took the baby out there and my husband’s no, we’re gonna call 9 1 1. And we went back and forth and finally of course he won. We called nine one. . And immediately, like a minute after he called 9 1 1, this car pulls up by this, the phone booth we were at and these guys jump out and I’m like I knew we were gonna get in more trouble.
But they were undercover cops. So that gives you a sense for how unsafe that area was because four undercover cops were driving in a vehicle. that wasn’t marked in any way, but they didn’t come and hurt me and they didn’t come after my husband. Making a very long story short when my husband talked to 9 1 1, they also sent officers to our home.
So he was on hold waiting and waiting to hear, and that’s when we found out that the abductors had been taken out. Our nine month old baby in his car seat threw him on the sidewalk. And drove away with us. So there is a happy ending. I always say that the other benefit of car seats is if they, if a child is thrown out in a car seat, it saves their lives cuz he was nine months at the time.
Wow. And of course he would’ve crawled into the street cuz we don’t have front yards. So after that happened, I said, this is crazy. You shouldn’t be able to put people. In their own trunks and worked very hard and collected data when there was none. And four years later, we had a federal safety regulation that now requires all vehicles 2002 or newer to come with that little loan, the dark truck release.
And the best news. Is we have been not been able to document one person who has died in the trunk of a car that has that little release. That’s amazing.
Anthony: On so many levels. That’s amazing. The fact that in four years you managed to get federal legislation passed to do this, that alone is phenomenal.
And did anyone in the auto industry fight against you and say, no, we can’t. This is too expensive?
Janette Fennell: Oh, they sure did fight. And I think the reason I got it done in such a short period of time is cause I didn’t know what I was doing. Once I learned what I was doing, it took longer and longer.
But yes, the auto industry said no. And in fact in 1979, decades before there was someone who’d written in, asked for trunk releases. And at that time, Joan Claybrook was. NHTSA administrator and, she told the car companies they should do this and, when the NHTSA administrator asked you to do something, you, you check into it.
And we were a actually able to get the notes from General Motors and how much do you think it cost per vehicle in 1979 to add a trunk release at each vehicle? 54 cents.
Anthony: No less than that. No.
Janette Fennell: Less than 54 cents. How much was it? 3 cents. . And they
Anthony: wouldn’t add 3 cents. But what’s the reasoning behind this?
Hey, it cost too
Janette Fennell: much .
Anthony: Oh. What was their, what? What was the cost in the nineties when you worked on getting this done? Was it then 54 cents?
Janette Fennell: I don’t think it was much more. Cuz if you, if you look in your trunk and that, She’s shaped handle probably about 3 cents. Maybe it’s less. . Oh and do, did they,
Anthony: besides just cost, do they have any other, who are these?
Can we name and shame them or is it too late at this point?
Michael: I think generally most safety upgrades in vehicles are resisted to some extent because of the cost factor in manufacturers. Ideally for them, I think they’d wanna sell the same fee vehicles they’re putting on the road right now and just increase the price every year.
Anthony: charge me three cents.
Janette Fennell: It, what they did, which I know now and I didn’t know at the time, was they, come up with all these, plausible but not real scenarios. So at that time, they said if there was a trunk release in the vehicle the criminal would further harm their victim.
or they would cut the trunk release off before they put you in. So it was, all smoke and mirrors. And probably one of the, my favorite days ever, cuz we had an expert panel on this issue is when I said, this doesn’t make sense to me. If I go to prison with a, notepad and I ask these criminals what they’re gonna do, is that how you guys get this?
And the F B I at that time confirmed that there is no way to predict criminal behavior. And of course none of the nonsense they had been pushing for decades is true or really made any sense. But of course, it’s plausible, so they put it out there.
Anthony: So every time you see a movie or TV show where someone gets put in a trunk, in a modern car, and they’re like, come on, why aren’t you pulling the trunk release?
Do you yell at the tv or is that just me ?
Janette Fennell: It depends if I know the model. The vehicle . No the happy days happen every, once in a while we do hear and we see on tv, oh, and the person found the trunk release and they ran out and got away. Those are our favorite. Oh.
Anthony: Another big issue you work on and Michael sent around the article from the Washington Post on this, and this is a very intense article.
The Gene Weingarten piece on Hot Cars and hyperemia. Is that, did I get that right?
Janette Fennell: Hy Hypothermia.
Anthony: Hypothermia. Which, just quickly for listeners is there’s unfortunately these very awful cases where people are driving their toddlers and forget them in the backseat of the car.
And unfortunately the child dies and expires and people think how, oh, how could this ever happen? I would never be like that. And. and recently, this is not as bad, but two weeks ago I went into a Trader Joe’s and I left the car. My son and I went inside and I came back out a half hour later and realized I left the car running.
Which is not as bad, but it’s just to show that it just something as simple as that. Yeah, I can see where your brain, you have a essentially the medical term, I believe is brain fart. A and then you just forget that this happens. So this is a another issue that your organization has spent a good deal of time on working on trying to get sensors or alerts or alarms, some way to get, again, the auto industry to spend 3 cents to save lives.
Janette Fennell: This might be a few pennies more. Okay. . But yes, I would really advise that your listeners pop on and. And watch and read Gene Weingarten’s piece. It’s called Fatal Distraction. And, I highly recommend it. It really is the best piece that’s ever been written about this issue.
And let’s not forget it did win a Pulitzer Prize. So it must be pretty good, right? Yeah. Yeah.
Michael: I think it’s a movie
Janette Fennell: even now. Yep. The in fact, we have made a documentary of the same. and it really takes people through this process and it’s autopilot. None of us want to admit it could happen to us, but it does.
And I just want people to know, cuz there’s probably a whole lot of naysayers out there already saying it would never happen to them, but I could introduce you to all the parents who said it would never happen to them. and they would never unknowingly leave a child alone on a vehicle. Of course not.
It happened to them. Yeah. These aren’t
Anthony: negligent people. These aren’t people that are vindictive. They’re not actively looking to cause these problems. Just they unfortunately have the worst day of their life ever.
Janette Fennell: Yeah. And it’s one mistake that they pay for the rest of their lives. Learn from their mistakes and just understand.
This does happen to the very, very,
Anthony: All right. So what are the solutions that you’ve and your organization has proposed to, to help prevent this?
Janette Fennell: We have a great chart on our website and it shows the number of children who have died from overpowered airbags versus the number of children who have died in hard cars.
And it’s a great comparison from 1990 till this year. Interestingly enough, when you look at the chart, under 200 children have died from overpowered airbags. And the reason I bring that into the conversation is because that’s the reason we moved all of the kids into the backseat, because of course, we don’t want these overpowered airbags killing children.
When we did that, we made no other modifications. We changed forever. The. Parents transport their children, we put ’em in the back seat. We made a law to make sure that they were in the back seat. Then we found out that it was safer if you had them rear facing in the back seat. So we did everything we could to hide those little precious babies in the backseat without, making any modifications for that.
So what has happened is out of sight, out of mind. We’ve all driven and gotten on autopilot, like maybe we’ve missed our exit or we’re thinking about the meeting we have as soon as we get to work and we forget about that. Stop at daycare. It, we work with Dr. David Diamond who has studied the issue of prospective memory versus habit memory versus autopilot.
and if there’s science that shows how this happens, why it happens, and people don’t wanna accept that. They really want to think that it’s bad parents versus good parents and nothing could be further from the truth. Just to finalize on that chart, we’re talking less than 200 deaths from overpowered airbags now that the kids are in the back seat, over 1000 children.
have died in hot cars during that same period of time.
Anthony: Wow. And what was that period of time? Was that the last I don’t have the chart in front of, was that the last
Janette Fennell: decade? From 1990 till today. Oh. But still
Anthony: these are preventable deaths,
Janette Fennell: Oh, the they’re totally predictable and totally preventable.
So we’ve been working on this issue for over 20 years and, In November of 2021, we got a provision in there that’s part of the infrastructure bill to finally get some technology in our vehicles so we can get a, an alert if a living being was left in our vehicle. And we just met with NHTSA last week because the language that was passed was woefully inadequate.
Said that they’re going to do the right thing and make sure that the systems that get installed can actually detect the presence of a child.
Anthony: Yeah. Michael, we, before we started, you were mentioning this a little bit. Like what specifically is. Is happening here? Cause I’ve talked about in the past, like the rear seatbelt reminder sometimes in my car, if there’s a bag on the seat, it will go off when there’s no human there and right.
Michael: This is yet another area where, you know, automakers for the most part are trying to get the cheapest passable. Tech into cars. What they want is basically, I think they would be happy with an alert that flashed at you on the dash, just like a seatbelt or removed your key warning every time you got out of the car, whether or not there was something in the back seat, pet child, or whatever.
Whereas the most effective technology is obviously going to be one that detects a better a. Specifically, I say PET again and again because that’s, certainly something that a technology that can detect children could do. It could come in handy in a lot of situations because children aren’t the only living things that are left in vehicles pet.
It happens to pets as well it would be great to have a sensor system that detects the presence of a child in the backseat and alerts the driver loudly as loudly and as annoyingly as possible until that situation is corrected. And I think that’s where, what we’re going for, but the industry seems to want to put in place systems that aren’t quite that effective.
Janette Fennell: Yeah. , right now what you’re seeing is what we call end of trip alert. That’s how far they’ve been willing to go. And how that works is just if you open the back door 10 minutes before you go on your journey, that when you arrive and turn the car off, you’re gonna get, a little notice on the dashboard that says check the rear C And sometimes there’s different little dings with it, but, You really don’t know what’s going on.
And we already have documented three fatalities of children in vehicles that have that technology. So what we’re looking for, it is a technology that’s readily available and it can tell you if there’s a child, if it’s a bag, if it’s a dog, if it’s an. It can tell with this technology what’s in that seat.
And if it’s living and breathing, you will get an alert. They can go as far as call your cell phone and call all your contacts that you set up. And if none of those answer, it could call 9 1 1. So there’s so many ways to end this. But we’re still fighting to make sure the right technology added after 20 years of getting.
and working so hard to get some language that requires not such to.
Anthony: Yeah. Cause if it’s just another dashboard light, people are just gonna ignore it. Every time I turn on my car, it’s like maintenance required soon. I don’t know what that means. So I ignore it. Wow.
Janette Fennell: Yeah. It’s interesting cuz I don’t know.
I don’t look at my dash when I turn off my vehicle. I look at it when I’m starting it, but I don’t look at it when I’m leaving. There’s a lot of flaw in that. But NHTSA did tell us that they’re going to, make sure that it’s done correctly. So we’re on hope and a prayer that is the way it’s going to be done.
And, I don’t like to say this all the time, but it just, and I don’t wanna be sensational, but it’s just. . You can’t buy a car today that either reminds you to turn off your headlights or turns ’em off automatically because God forbid, we do not want a car battery that goes dead. But for the last 30 years, I guess it’s okay for children to be left in vehicles and die that way.
I think it’s the perfect parallel and. , let’s go, let’s take care of our babies. Wow. Wow. How do you work on, do, work
Anthony: on anything, but it’s very light and very easygoing or is everything literally life and death, because I don’t know how you It’s death.
Janette Fennell: Yeah. It’s it’s life and death.
Anthony: I’m glad you’re doing it. I, . I, yeah, I can’t even speak.
Michael: Great. Janette, we need you on more if that’s the case. .
Anthony: Yeah. If I didn’t speak the two of you, just sit there and just stare. Come on. . So other issues we’ve talked about a lot on the show are the front overs and back overs and Fred’s done a lot to explain what’s happening there. And he told all the listeners to go out and buy the largest u v possible and to procreate as much as possible at the same time. I thought it was a weird choice, but he’s the engineer, not me. So what’s so front over, as we’ve talked about before, it’s these giant SUVs you can’t see in front of them.
There’s a bunch of people have done video demonstrations you can see online where if you’re in a Cadillac Escalade, you can have something like a half a dozen kids sitting in front of the car and you won’t see it till the seventh. because of the angle of, cuz you get to sit higher than everybody on the road, including small people.
Yeah. So what’s what’s the latest happening there?
Janette Fennell: I’m really glad that you’re watching these demonstrations be set up because they do, make an impression and I don’t think people have any appreciation for how much they cannot see in front of their. , and again, as you guys go over all the time, people are buying these massive vehicles that are high off the ground and have incredibly comp, complicated line zones where you just can’t see if there’s a person or a bike in front of the vehicle.
So what we’re trying to do is to take care of that problem. It is, I possible to avoid hitting something you can’t see. We all realize that, right? Yes. And that’s what we’re dealing with right now. So there’s, plenty of technology that has happened. We’re actually the organization that’s responsible for getting the backup cameras.
as standard equipment in all vehicles. Really?
Janette Fennell: you. It’s, I love. Yeah. And we knew that 20 years ago and I had met the adopter of technology long, long time ago, and it took a long time to get that passed, but we were all backing blind and I couldn’t believe for a hundred years of making vehicles, there was no rear visibility.
Standard zero. And that’s all we are asking for. It manifested itself in rearview cameras, but that is how that came to be. So we wanna do the same thing with front overs is it’s impossible to avoid hitting something you can’t see. And a lot of vehicles have maybe a front camera or a 360 degree system.
I don’t know if you’ve seen many of those.
Anthony: Sometimes they warp the area around you and it looks like a strange video game on Teslas. Just things like that.
Janette Fennell: Yeah. It gives you a 360 view, or it’s called a bird’s eye view because you’re looking from the top. I have that on my vehicle. I absolutely adore it.
And it lets you see everything that’s around the vehicle. And that’s what’s. because little ones come out of nowhere and they follow their parents. We call it the Bye-bye syndrome, and before they know it, it’s too late.
Anthony: Okay, so something like that is definitely more than 3 cents. And I know they’ll argue against you and be like, wait, this is gonna cut all those cameras, that’s gonna cost us $30, or whatever it is when, cuz we buy everything in bulk, like the backseat sensor.
I imagine I don’t know how much is a weight sensor? I don’t know. Fred, do you have any idea how much a sensor costs? You’re not on sensor.com all the time.
Oh, look at that. He’s muted, but he’s being very animated about things and he’s, oh, there we go. . Ah,
Fred: sorry. No, I don’t happen to know how much that sensor costs, but I do know that a typical micro switch costs about a buck and a half. I assume that is the range of price for what a, weight sensor would be.
Janette Fennell: Okay. And the cameras look well. Actually we’re not looking to do it based on weight where the technology is like radar and it can tell if there’s a breath, if someone’s breathing, and it can tell you the difference between, like I said, a human being and a parcel or a dog. And it actually is something that would be install.
I call it the ceiling of the car. Everyone else calls it, of course the headliner cuz that’s the right word for it. But just it’s a little microchip can get installed up there and it does all sorts of great things. It can tell you if a child’s left behind it can tell you if the person’s buckled up or not.
So I see this as a cost savings because rather than all these seatbelt reminders, they could just use that technology. to determine if people are buckled up and, there’s all sort of benefits of it. So come on, let’s go. It’s time to come into the 20th first century. . I did see
Fred: a presentation on that at the s a e meeting in Washington earlier this year.
And it seems to be very effective. Seems to have a lot of resolution and is very sensitive. They didn’t talk about the cost of it though, but I suppose in bulk it would be, like any other microprocessor based object something that is affordable. Do you have any idea, what the cost of that would be or what it’s projected to?
Janette Fennell: Some of the estimates we’ve been giving is about $50, but remember if you take out all the seatbelt reminders and it can also have automatic airbag suppression. Besides detecting the presence of someone’s left alone in a vehicle, I think $50 sounds like a pretty good deal, and I might be a cost.
Anthony: Because airbag suppression on the passenger front, passenger side, that’s just a weight sensor, isn’t it?
Michael: Yeah. That’s typically, I think they leave it open to whether they can do it a better way, but it’s a weight, mainly a weight sensor for around, I think it’s around 30 to 35 pounds and most vehicles, which is why my dog sets it.
Anthony: Your dog needs to go on a diet. We’ve discussed that . Okay, so then I say the objection. If you have this thing in the headliner that’s sending out radar waves or sonar, something like that, then you just get the feedback, the pushback is gonna become from the people who thinks that Bill Gates put microchips in their arms recently with the Covid vaccine, but they’re just.
Janette Fennell: may maybe if they attach their iPhone to the headliner, if we really realize how we’re being followed and detected, that’s actually
Anthony: a better idea. Just put your phone in the headliner. We’ll use that in little charge and check everything for you. I like that idea.
Michael: But then you have to put your phone down.
Janette Fennell: that’s the case. Maybe have to put your phone up.
Anthony: Yeah, you got a lot of neck strain. A lot of spine problems will be happening for people.
Fred: Okay, so how are you gonna, how are you gonna play wordle in your car if you’ve got the iPhone up in the headliner? I don’t understand how you do that.
Anthony: I finish
Janette Fennell: finished one.
We could add another. . Yeah. More mirrors.
Anthony: I, Hey, we all want mirrors on everywhere inside a car. .
Michael: All right. Back to front overs too for a second, please. Since we, we kinda jumped back to rear seat, rear hot cars again. But on the front overs, I think the biggest challenge, challenge that we face there is when trying to get a federal standard put into place, or trying to get legislation put into place, you have to You have to show that there is a benefit to be gained by the installation of this, the, this technology.
And to do that, you have to show that there are a lot of crashes of this type, front overs in driveways and on private property and parking lots, that type of thing. And the problem is it doesn’t collect good data on any of those incidents because, for whatever reason, due to NHTSA’s authority as protecting people on public roads throughout the course of their history, they have really shied away from collecting data on incidents that happen off-road.
This first, we first encountered this, I believe, in the early two thousands when we were looking into Ford Crown Victoria police vehicles that had a gas tank behind the rear axle, I believe, and it was being hit. These police vehicles were being hit and catching on fire frequently, and we couldn’t find.
These crashes in the federal data, and we didn’t know why. And it was because once those police vehicles were pulling off the side of the road, they were no longer considered a vehicle in transit according to the coding manual. And so those crashes were being excluded from the federal data. And here we have a very similar issue where it is incredibly difficult to locate and to track front over incidents.
Because there just isn’t data being collected on them.
Janette Fennell: And Michael brings up the point that we’ve been working with because when we tried to do something about truck releases, it was no data, no problem. So literally I had to provide the data to the national government. But then people would call me and say, what about power windows?
What about kids knocking cars into. Believe it or not, it took an act of Congress to get NHTSA to start collecting data that happens off the public road or highway. And I think it’s important for your listeners to know that when we talk about the 43,000 people that have died in the previous years, we’re talking just about incidents where one, there was a crash.
two, the crash happened on a public road or highway, and three, the person died within 30 days of that incident. So there is a lot of stuff missing from there. And when we were able to get that bill passed for the government to start collecting some data of about things that happened off of our public roads or highways the first report they came out with showed another 2000 people had.
And importantly, another 850,000 people went to the emergency rooms every year from non-traffic incidents.
Janette Fennell: per year. Yes. And that’s just in hospital emergency room. So there’s
Anthony: a ton we don’t still know about.
Janette Fennell: Oh yeah. Yeah. Tons and tons. That kind of has been our claim to fame is this whole issue of non.
Cuz that’s where the incidents we try to fix tend to happen. Okay. So
Anthony: I gotta clear this up cuz my naive brain thinks that Okay. That . Regulated cars of some sort. And I didn’t realize once my car was on my driveway, it was no longer a car and they didn’t care about it because they do track battery fires, right?
And and engine fires and they’re happening with parked cars on, in my driveway. I don’t have a driveway, but still, so they track fires, but not.
Michael: Those wouldn’t, those fires aren’t going to show up in the fatality analysis reporting system, which is the FARs is what we call it, which is what NHTSA uses to track.
Fatal crashes. Those would probably show up when NETA does get a report of a battery fire occurring like that, those are going to come directly from either the owner of the local authorities or the automaker, maybe insurance. , there’s not going to be a record in the federal.
Anthony: Okay, so when I accidentally drive over some people, because I can’t see ’em in my car, I don’t report that because I feel like it’s my fault.
Is that kind of what happens? And the only time the government finds out is if we go to the hospital and they ask what happened?
Michael: It’s literally based on police reports. The and the, there was, if there’s a crash report, it has to happen on a public road for it to make it into the.
It has to be actually a vehicle in transit as part of the crash to make it into the federal data.
Anthony: But it, so my car is not a car unless it’s on a public road. That’s what I’m hearing.
Janette Fennell: I’m glad you’re making that point cuz that’ll help us with some ammunition. But yeah, basically if you’re not in a crash on a public broader highway and die within 30 days, you’re not gonna make it in the.
Now, like I said, we were able to get an active Congress and now there’s something called, not in trumpet surveillance, but it’s pretty basic. They don’t update it as frequently as they should and goes back to no data, no problem. But, we keep at it and we’re just really watching out for those things.
And we are the only ones that are collecting.
Anthony: Oh my word. All right. Another thing in Michael’s list that he sends out to us ahead of time. Power windows, power seats. Now, I thought the power window issue was taken care of over a decade ago, where, when we felt resistance, like garage doors that they start going down they wouldn’t continue to strangle somebody.
But it was recently when, the last year, I think Tesla had a recall on that because their windows. Continuing to go up. So this is still an issue where people are getting heads, fingers, toes caught inside and power winds are not stopping.
Janette Fennell: Yes and no. We tried to get a federal regulation that would make safer power windows switches and have auto reverse on every window.
but we were only halfway successful. We were able to get safer power window switches because in the past, I don’t know if you remember, they were a rocker or a toggle, type switch. And what would happen is, dogs or little children in the window would be down and they get up and put their knee on that.
And the window goes up very quickly with a great deal of force, like 30 to 80 pounds of force. And we call it the silent killer because, it immediately crushes their throat and they can’t yell for help. . Like I said, we’ve seen a decrease in the numbers because we have now safer power window switches.
And again, I think that’s the savings for the auto industry. Cuz they all had different switches, all over the car in different places. Now there’s standardization, but they didn’t go as far as requiring auto reverse on all windows. And that’s a problem because if you’re the driver and you’re controlling all the power windows, You might not know that someone has their fingers or arm out the window because you don’t have eyes in the back of your head and put the windows up.
So there are still incidents and it would be nice if we had auto reverse on all windows in our view
Michael: and I met Jeanette. putting carrots into the window of my 2003 Volkswagen Jetta station wagon way back in my early days at the center, and it had auto reverse 20 years ago, the lowest, cheapest Volkswagen you could buy.
So this is not some super expensive technology and it could really ultimately prevent this problem from ever happening. If we got auto. in addition to the rocker switches into
Anthony: vehicles. So how do you cut your carrots now? . Oh my bad,
Janette Fennell: Chuck. No, it’s a very effective demo and I know Anthony always wants to know what were their objections?
Yes. And this is another good one. If we had auto reverse power windows. and somebody with a gun, comes to your window and is gonna shoot you. And if it’s auto reverse, when they put the gun in there, you know you won’t be saved. It’s very interesting because almost all vehicles have auto reverse in the driver’s side window.
and for the decades and decades of having auto reverse on the driver’s window, we’ve not heard of anyone who’s been killed by a gun because the window went back down. I don’t know. Again, they must lay awake at night thinking about these ideas and there is a chance it could. , but based on my knowledge, it has never happened.
And if you wanna shoot anyone, just go through, shoot right through the. Wait,
Anthony: is that a legit argument that they’ve actually made? That’s
Michael: done. Anthony. Anthony, come on. We could do a full podcast on the bullshit that manufacturers roll out to avoid regulation. This, that’s just one among the hundreds of things that have been used over the years to try to defeat attempts at regulation
Anthony: and when, unless they start offering like Bulletproof Glass standard on a card.
That is the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard. ,
Janette Fennell: Hey, people go for. People go for it. What people,
Anthony: congressmen who are getting paid off in lobbying fees. All right, I’ve done the math. So with all this, who is the, who’s the biggest people pushing back on this? Is it the auto trade industry? Is that what they’re, what is their lobbying group called?
Is it the lobbyist Pushing back? Do you actually have members of Congress being like, no, let’s save a penny. Like what’s the big pushback against it? Because I can’t imagine, Fred could probably speak to this, but I can’t imagine from an engineering point of view any engineer being like, no, if we add in a rear view camera that’s gonna mess things up, it’s gonna ruin my serious FM radio, which I don’t listen to.
Who where’s the pushback besides the bureaucrats and the accountants?
Janette Fennell: Or is it just. From a combination of all those people. When, you know there’s another process after Mitsa writes of regulation, it goes to a department called O ira. And when we were doing the back up cameras and they were doing some analysis, they were saying it costs like 200, $300 to add these rear view cameras.
And the truth of the matter is, at that time, they were probably about five. and I’m gonna guess now they’re down to two to $3. Cuz you can put those all over a vehicle and it doesn’t cost that much. But they were like adding in the monitor and I’m like, you can’t, if the monitor’s already there, you can’t double count that.
So it, it gets creative. You have to stay on your tippy toes and be able to slash all of these rumors in one felt. , the
Anthony: mysterious gunman coming for you. Oh,
Janette Fennell: my What? That’s a good one, huh? . I know you’d liked
Anthony: that one, Anthony. That one is amazing. makes me wanna go out and get a gun. I, should we move into the, to the town and
Fred: Just, Janelle, I just wanted to ask you one question.
Is there a kind of a. A, a li put strategy here where there, where people are trying to tie you down with small issues, relatively small issues, and nitpicking objections so that they can keep you from focusing on bigger issues. Is there something a bandwidth problem? Is there something floating around out there that should be addressed that can’t be, because there are so many other issues that are, that are
Janette Fennell: being.
There, there’s, always something that we find out because if, and you have kids, if it can be done, it will be done. They figure out all these crazy stuff. But one, one of the things that we’re looking into, that’s two of them actually, that have Risa recently come to light.
One is Subversions in bodies of water. . And the other one is car thefts when children are left alone and again, those are two going to be two toughies, but if we can get some of these other things done, we can really start focusing on those type of things.
Michael: One thing that I also wanted to cover too is rear seatbelt reminders.
Rear seatbelt reminders have been in cars since I think the seventies or so. We’re talking about over 50 years in the, in front seatbelt reminders have been in cars that long for the driver. And. there is, there was, our friends over at Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Public Citizen Petition NHTSA in 2007.
So over 15 years ago to move, essentially move that seatbelt reminder technology into the back seats, both to encourage people in rear seats to buckle up. And this was long before the age of ride share where a lot more people were riding in the backseat. But to encourage people in the backseat to buckle up and also to.
Parents when children riding the backseat backseats weren’t buckled up or had unbuckled. And so it’s seeing how many deaths we, we have in America every year from people that are unbuckled in the backseat. It really makes this push important. Like I said, it’s been 15 years since NZ received a petition on this.
They were required in the map 21. Over 10 years ago to put seatbelt reminders in the rear seats. Jeanette and I sued them six years ago to get them to finally write the rule on this, and we’re still waiting for the rule. That’s been a really long process as well. And, getting people to buckle up in the back seat has the potential to save, Dozens, if not hundreds of lives a year.
Why? It’s another area where we think the agency should be moving a lot faster given the, we’re not talking about autonomous vehicles here, or something that takes 20 years to write a rule on. This is functionally moving. A reminder from the front seat to the back that’s been, in existence for 50 years is from a technological stand.
Janette Fennell: Yeah I, of course concur with Michael, and that’s kinda in the bane of my existence. Maybe someday I won’t have to talk about rear seatbelt reminders, but what Michael was re referring to is an over 40 to 50% of these fatal crashes, the person isn’t buckled up at all, or a child’s not in a car. . This is really unimaginable.
And again, we met with them last week and they assured me, not only is the rule gonna be sent over to o I R sometime soon, but there’s going to be all these extra benefits. I sit, I wait, I pray because this is such low hanging. everything that the industry, the advocates, the government puts out is buckle up, but yet they’re sitting on the simplest regulation they can write to save lives.
So it something’s very amiss and or awry. But again, I’ve been promised it’s gonna get over there this year.
Anthony: Yeah. I h s has a great video showing the crash tests with rear seal belts engaged and not engaged. And I didn’t realize this, but you’re in the driver’s seat. You’ve got your seatbelt on.
You figure you’re fine. If the person behind you doesn’t have a seatbelt on, you’re dead. But even doesn’t matter, you have a seatbelt on. Cuz if they basically they fly forward, they crush you forward while the airbag’s going off. And yeah, put on a seatbelt. Make sure you don’t have a toccata airbag.
Janette Fennell: Oh, Anthony, I’ve got some great public service announcements from over the pond that I’ll send you.
Please. Yeah, that actually shows what happens when you don’t have your seatbelt on. You’ll love them. It’s amazing.
Michael: And also any, just a general warning to people, but any type of unsecured objects in your car are going to be a nightmare and a crash. I think that’s something that people don’t think about a lot, but it’s critically important in a crash that you don’t have a 10 pound object flying at your head.
Anthony: why I gave up. So I don’t know Jeanette, if you’ve been paying attention to the conversations we’ve been having around autonomous vehicles but we’re trying to get, 10 years ahead of these things coming out there and one of the. One of the, we have this AV Bill of Rights.
It’s an early draft, but the second item on there is, and I’m gonna paraphrase it and Fred’s gonna correct me in a second, but basically I think relating to kids is have it so the car doesn’t respond to a child saying, I wanna go to the beach right now. Let’s turn around, let’s change the radio station to something else.
Let’s have it, let’s have this automated vehicle do something that it shouldn’t be doing by a kid. I know that was a really bad explanation, Fred, I have. ,
Fred: we love you, Anthony. You’re coming along. We appreciate that.
Michael: Hey, thanks, .
Fred: Yeah so Janet, Janelle, what we’ve been doing is we came up with a set of performance oriented requirements for AAVs that we think is a void in the marketplace right now because most of the discussion is.
dominated by boosters of the technology who really want to push it forward regardless of whether or not it’s ready because they have investment objectives they have to meet. So we st introduced these bill of Rights with these individual requirements last week. We’re gonna talk about one this week, which is the second one.
Reading it verbatim, it’s AVS shall Secure, verify and authenticate operational commands and external communications. So this is actually very important because if you have an av it’s operating hopefully for the benefit of its passengers and the people around it, but it needs to be operated safely.
There are attack surfaces that are available from a lot of viewpoints in the car that could interrupt. , the intended operation of the vehicle. As far as I know, there is nobody right now who is working to secure the communications in these respects. So going through that, you’ve got to first of all, secure the communications so you can make sure that nobody is breaking into the chain of command or the operational commands of the vehicle and causing.
unintended and potentially disastrous consequences. But even after you’ve secured it, you need to verify the communications. Cuz if somebody, if you are listening to the radio and it says, I’m going to Kansas City, you don’t want the vehicle you that’s operating a voice commands to decide all right, I’m gonna go to Kansas City instead of the Piggly Wiggly.
That’s very important to verify the actual. Information that’s coming in and make sure that it’s actionable and appropriate. And third is you gotta authenticate the operational commands. You could have a lot of people talking. In a car, you could have a lot of people sending commands from different perspectives.
How does the vehicle know who is the authorized person? How in, in the case of your horrible experience, which is, , makes me very clamp just to think about it. But, the, somebody took over your vehicle who was not supposed to take over your vehicle and they, and a really bad thing happened.
this could easily happen in an automated vehicle if there’s no way to authenticate the command for the vehicle. The how do we know who the person commanding it is, in fact the right person to be commanding that vehicle. This should. Authentication, security and verification of the commands should operate on all of the external and the internal communications that the vehicle might have, whether that’s a radio communication or somebody in the car making a verbal command or a kid touching The touchscreen that I know has happened in the past with Teslas where that kid touched a touchscreen.
All of a sudden the car took off and started to go to that particular location. . These are all hazards that are out there that need to be addressed, and we think that this is an important part of what an AV operating system has to include in order to be safe, to be used on the highways. Particularly important for kids if there are kids in a car, because yeah, you could have a Powerful are kids.
Somebody wants to go and take their AP English final, whereas somebody else wants to go to the beach. And if everybody’s screaming into the microphone, how does the car know which way to go? Now, if you haven’t authenticated the command, if you don’t know which command to listen to, I think this is a technically very challenging thing to do.
It doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, it just means that there are a lot of challenges ahead for the AAV V design. And implementation that I think really need to be addressed before they can be considered safety used on the highway
Michael: credit if , isn’t it really important too here, not just from the perspective of, humans in the car talking and giving orders, but the command and control structure of a vehicle needs to also prevent Vladimir Putin’s friends from taking over vehicles in America.
It’s broader than just say a verbal command and control structure. We need to keep out bad actors from a cybersecurity perspective.
Fred: Oh, absolutely. And in fact we do articulate that it needs to secure and verify the commands that are coming in. That includes both cybersecurity as well as it could be somebody, walking down the side of the road as you’re getting into the car who is doing something.
Or it could be a malicious actor who’s got an iPhone that is tapping into your car through any port on the attack surface. There. Places in the car that are using Bluetooth technology to communicate between portions of the car and the car central processor. For example, the air pressure sensors that are inside of the.
Inside of the tires, they have a wireless connection to the rest of the vehicle so that they can send the information about the air pressure. Bad is an attack surface. Somebody could break into that and have a severe risk command. The. , you would like to have an air gap between the entertainment system and the operational system.
This doesn’t exist. We, people have in the past, taken over vehicle control by breaking in through the communication system and the entertainment system. So there’s a lot to be done on securing this. The problem that we see right now is that there’s no requirement for companies to do this or to even address it.
There’s nothing in the s a. Society of Automotive Engineers req reports. information. J 30 16 is typical of that says you need to do this. There’s nothing in the ISO standards that say you need to do this. We’re active in trying to help develop these standards as well. But we think, again, we need to be on the offense here and say these are minimum standards, not maximum standards, but minimum standards for what’s required before these vehicles should be allowed to operate on the.
Anthony: I think I’m gonna take some inspiration from Jeanette here and because I don’t really know what it takes to get this done. And you said Jeanette, when you started your organization, you didn’t really know what it took to accomplish these things, and the more you knew, the harder it became. So I’ll just go in there from a very naive perspective and push all this stuff through in four years.
Isn’t that nothing work? Everyone’s just canceled and closed out of this chat. ,
Fred: why don’t we have to start somewhere? We don’t know where it’s gonna. But we think we’ve gotta start
Anthony: here. I think from, I think this, I love this with the AV stuff. I think from a parent’s point of view, this is just the perfect way to keep kids quiet.
You shut up. The car will not take us to Bradley’s now. because, yeah, but I can be
Janette Fennell: wrong. Since where I grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I’m very proud to say that I did shop at the pig. . Oh my God. . So Anthony, I’m sorry, you’re the only one that, that doesn’t understand the importance of the Piggly Wiggly.
Fred: Anthony’s our representative of the coastal elites, I’m afraid. He is he’s Piggly wiggly deprived.
Anthony: Oh. . Yeah, I’m the coastal elite. I know. I, I was hoping, I didn’t know you’d, I thought you were gonna be a good guest and unfortunately I have to delete this episode cuz you mentioned picky wiggly, and I’ve, We’re gonna
All right, with the mention of Piggly Wiggly, I think we’re gonna wrap up there. A big thanks to Jeanette Fennel from Kids and Cars. Go to kids and cars.org. Find out more amazing organization. Really Doing work that nobody else could do. The amount of data that you’re collecting and that those databases, it’s everyone in the country, should send you a thank you note at least once a year.
Here is my verbal thank you note. Thank you.
Janette Fennell: So well, thank you for having me on. Yeah.
Anthony: Absolutely. Thank you Jeanette. A any, anytime. As Michael said, you’re like the organization’s bff. So all right hey, thanks everybody for listening. And we’ll be back next week.
Michael: Thank listeners.