Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on September 12th, 2016,
by Zane Cagle

Hot Car Deaths Increase in 2016

Posted on September 12th, 2016 by Zane Cagle

Heat Stroke Deaths Per Year

#SaferKidsOn average 36 children die  in heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles every year. What is most misunderstood is that this tragedy can happen to even the very best parents. In fact, it does. While motor vehicle crashes still remain the number one cause of death of children, these children left inadvertently in hot cars is an area where we all can work on education and prevention.

Hot Car Deaths Surge in 2016

So far this year, there have been 28 deaths due to heat stroke for children left in vehicles. Last year, there was a total of 24, thus we are already above last year’s total number and we are not finished with hot weather.  Years with the largest number include 2005 with 47 and 2010 with 49 deaths. However, safety organizations including KidsandCars.org, law enforcement and National Safety Council have made enormous efforts in educating and public safety reminders in order to prevent these tragic hot car deaths.

Statistics since 1998 have been examined as to the circumstances in which children died in hot cars according to Noheatstroke.org

  • 54%- child “forgotten” by caregiver
  • 29%- child playing in unattended car
  • 17% -child left intentionally by adult
  • 1% -circumstances unknown.

So, we look at the 83% of the deaths that we can prevent which can dramatically changes the numbers.  Out of 661 children, 545 were left inadvertently or managed to climb into a car that was not attended by an adult.

Misunderstood Assumptions

If you are like me, you see the reaction of parents and other adults across social media and often find the judgment appalling.  If you have children, you know that a tragedy can happen quickly despite your most diligent supervision. Any parent that says otherwise is kidding themselves.

These types of deaths are so appalling and one of the ways we cope is to tell ourselves, “it could never happen to me because I’m a good parent”.  Yet, when you actually see who the parents are that have inadvertently left their child in a car causing them serious injury or death, you usually identify too closely with them.  The scary thing about identifying with the parents is that you realize, “this could happen to me”. “I could be the one that inadvertently kills my own child” and this goes against our very being as parents. Our role is to protect. It is instinctual for parents to often sacrifice their own health or life for the sake of their child. Thus, we look for ways to respond to these tragedies and rationalize how it could “never happen to us”

Prevention and Education

I encourage any and all parents and caregivers to visit KidsandCars.org, a prevention organization dedicated to preventing child injury and deaths near and around motor vehicles.  Understandably, those parents who have experienced such a tragedy often are the best spokespeople and they share their stores with KidsandCars.org.  I n the last decade, there has been far more awareness about this problem. KidsandCars.org not only shares safety and prevention information but also serve as data gathering source and work to promote legislation for car manufacturers to utilize technology to increase safety of motor vehicles for children.

KidsandCars.org also shares the heartbreaking stories of lost children for the sake of preventing more deaths.  By understanding how “normal” so many of the parents are, it better clarifies that yes, it could happen to you even if you are a super attentive parent. The loss of a child is one of the most unimaginable events a parent can comprehend. The loss of life due to children being inadvertently left in a vehicles can be reduced and possibly eliminated all together.

Why tell these gruesome stories?  The chief reason we blog about these tragedies is completely due to contributing to prevention. This is the type of child death that rarely warrants a “personal injury case” so we share this information purely as safety and awareness. We also encourage every other group to share support for these prevention organizations when possible.

If you have questions, please call us at (314) 276-1681