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The power of survivor advocacy: making car trunks escapable
  1. Elizabeth McLoughlin1,
  2. Janette Fennell2
  1. 1Trauma Foundation and San Francisco Injury Center
  2. 2TRUNC (Trunk Releases Urgently Needed Coalition)
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Elizabeth McLoughlin, Trauma Foundation, San Francisco General Hospital, Bldg 1, San Francisco, CA 94110
 (email: liz{at}


Survivor advocates are powerful workers for injury prevention. Some of the major prevention successes have been due in large part to their efforts. This case history examines the four year campaign to prevent entrapment in car trunks (or boot) through the routine installation of interior trunk releases. It traces how a life altering event began a cluster of activities leading to product redesign and regulation to prevent injury. The following elements were key: data and the lack thereof, identification of possible solutions, newsworthy tragedies and media advocacy, politics and sympathetic lawmakers, an agency with regulatory authority, manufacturers, and trade associations. Survivors can assist the injury field because the personal and the professional complement each other in advocacy. Public health professionals can assist survivor advocates by sharing research, data and organizational skills, and by helping to secure grants.

  • legislation
  • product design
  • survivors
  • car trunk (boot)

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