Van drowning raises questions about kids and cars

The issue of car safety and children has been thrust in the spotlight as police investigate a tragic vehicle drowning incident in Bridgeport.

Four people, including three children, died when a minivan rolled into a pond on the Fourth of July. The driver, 39-year-old Michelle McIntosh, got back into the vehicle in an attempt to stop it from rolling into the water. McIntosh died, along with her 2-year-old son and 3-year-old family friend that day. Her 6-year-old nephew died a day later.

McIntosh?s husband has speculated that his son may have freed himself from his car seat, climbed into the front and put the car in gear.

McIntosh?s vehicle was a 1999 Chrysler minivan, which did not have a safety measure known as brake transmission shift interlock (BTSI). In cars with BTSI, the driver has to step on the brake in order to shift gears.

Car expert Jim Motavalli said the accident never had to happen, and shouldn't happen to anyone else with the advent of BTSI. ?I think this is something that car makers could easily do and should do to make all cars safe for kids sitting in the front or back seat,? he said.

Many new and recently made cars have BTSI as a standard feature, and all manufacturers have agreed to make it standard by 2010. Lawmakers are pushing to get a federal bill passed that would force manufacturers to comply now.

Related Information: National Highway Safety Administration Safercar.gov

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