Tens of thousands of hotels don’t allow guests to reach emergency services directly when they dial 911, says a national survey taken after a 9-year-old girl couldn’t call for help while her mother was being stabbed to death in a Texas motel, the Associated Press reports. The killing of Kari Hunt Dunn prompted a petition drive that has gathered 440,000 signatures demanding hotels and motels be required to enable the direct dialing of 911. Many hotels require callers to dial “9” before 911 or have some a system such as calling first to the front desk, which advocates say can lead to panic and confusion in an emergency.
Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai announced results of a survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association finding that only 45 percent of franchised hotels and motels and 32 percent of independent hotels have direct 911 dialing. “These statistics are alarming. They show that the telephone systems at tens of thousands of lodging properties across this country could fail Americans when it counts,” Pai said. He said the InterContinental, Marriott and Hilton chains were among those working to change dialing systems and educate franchise owners about the need to do so.