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Many U.S. hotels lack direct 911 emergency phone access, survey finds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Guests at thousands of U.S. hotels cannot directly reach emergency services when they dial 911, according to a survey performed after the 2013 death of a woman who was stabbed repeatedly in a Texas motel, while her daughter tried fruitlessly to dial the emergency number.

The survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association showed that many hotels required callers to dial 9 before 911 or have some other system, such as calling the front desk first.

The results of the survey were released on Monday by Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai, who had sought information on dial-through 911 calls at hotels.

About 45 percent of franchised hotels and motels and 32 percent of independent hotels have direct 911 dialing, the survey found. Independent owners or franchise holders manage the great majority of hotels and motels, he said.

There some 53,000 lodging properties in the United States, according to the trade group that performed the study.

Pai said he was starting a new round of surveys with vendors of phone systems used in hotels and workplaces to see whether they could be configured to let dialers reach 911 quickly.

The survey was spurred by the December 2013 stabbing death of Kari Hunt Dunn in a Marshall, Texas, motel room.

Her nine-year-old daughter called 911 four times from the room but did not know she needed to dial 9 first to get an outside line.

The killing spurred a petition that has generated more than 440,000 signatures demanding that Congress require hotels and motels to enable direct dialing of 911.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and James Dalgleish)

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