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Background: The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is an association of 12 vehicle manufacturers representing 77 percent of all car and light truck sales in the U.S. In partnership with Safe Kids Worldwide and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Alliance in 2014 sought to launch a national advocacy campaign about motor vehicle safety, specifically the risks associated with heat stroke and leaving children unattended in vehicles. The Alliance commissioned Public Opinion Strategies to provide public sentiment data to inform the campaign.

Solution: We began a national quantitative research effort to explore baseline awareness, attitudes and behavior surrounding heatstroke and leaving children unattended in vehicles. This initial baseline study involved two online surveys. The first targeted parents and caregivers and the second targeted national adults, measuring their awareness of actions bystanders can take when they see children unattended in vehicles, as well as identifying barriers that might prevent bystanders from taking action. All told, we have conducted three online surveys tracking parents’ and caregivers’ awareness, attitudes and behavior.

Solution: Through 2015, we have measured significant increases in awareness of the dangers inherent in leaving children alone in vehicles. Fully 85 percent of adults knew about the risks in March 2015, compared to 69 percent in February 2014. The data has helped inform campaigns such as Safe Kids Worldwide’s “Never Leave Your Child Alone In a Car,” and NHTSA’s, “Where’s baby? Look before you lock.” Our tracking shows those parents and caregivers who are aware of these campaigns are less likely to leave young children unattended in vehicles, giving our clients actionable insights on the effectiveness of their efforts. Mitch Bainwol of the Alliance stated “I have worked with Bill McInturff and the Public Opinion Strategies’ team for nearly twenty years… I have benefitted enormously from the objective advisory skills of Bill and his team. They do their homework, they are rigorous, dispassionate and thoughtful.”

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