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Carbon monoxide awareness

Published (5/6/2011)
By Mike Cook
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Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and deadly. Its consequences could become part of important teenage learning.

Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R-Woodbury) sponsors HF650 that would require the Department of Public Safety to include information on carbon monoxide poisoning in driver’s education training, would require a question about carbon monoxide on the driver’s exam and would require the department to include information about carbon monoxide in the driver’s manual.

The bill was approved April 29 by the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee and sent to the House Ways and Means Committee. It is also included in the omnibus transportation policy bill, HF1068. A companion, SF1042, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), has been held over for possible omnibus bill inclusion.

The impetus for what would be known as “Tyler’s Law” came from a December tragedy when Tyler Lavers, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, was accidentally killed when installing stereo speakers in his car.

He went to the family’s cabin and backed his car into the garage to be closer to the tools and better lighting. With the garage door open, he started the car at some point to test his speakers.

“We later learned that in as little as two to five minutes Tyler was likely unconscious and was most likely dead in 15,” Jeff Lavers, Tyler’s father, told the committee March 16. His mother found him lying in the back of the car, under the speakers.

“Despite a ventilated garage, the very cold air created a higher output of carbon monoxide from his engine,” Jeff Lavers said. “Combined with a confined space allowed this deadly poison to concentrate where he was and ultimately kill him.

“Only now am I coming to grips with the fact that the only thing that could have kept Tyler alive was knowledge, knowledge we are quite sure very few of us have.”

It is estimated that 15-20 Minnesotans die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

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