Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on July 18th, 2014,
by Zane Cagle

Petition to Reduce Child Hot Car Deaths – KidsAndCars.org

Posted on July 18th, 2014 by Zane Cagle

#SaferKidsPetition – Reducing Child Hot Car Deaths

KidsAndCars.org has launched a petition to the White House calling for technology to prevent child hot car deaths (petition details below).

If you have listened to the news or been exposed to media at all this summer, you are aware of the highly publicized deaths of several children who were inadvertently left in hot cars. According to KidsAndCars.org, 17 children have died this year as of July 15, 2014.  In the last 20 years, more than 670 children have died in hot cars.

As a parent of small children, this issue is of particular interest to me. The fact that 17 children have died this year alone due to something completely preventable is more than just a little disturbing. Due to recent media attention regarding the toddler’s death in Atlanta, much debate and outrage has surfaced. Regardless of how you feel about the Atlanta tragedy and the investigation ongoing into the father’s past, one thing is clear—too many children are left in hot cars inadvertently and  dying across the U.S. when these tragedies are preventable.  Clearly, we need to move past our judgment and find solutions and support for change and improvement.

Accidentally leaving one’s child in the car to die is an unthinkable thing to a parent!  As a parent, reading these horrific stores has been excruciating to me.  The first thing most parents think is, “That cannot happen to me, I’m a good parent”.  However, when you read the many first-hand agonizing accounts of the parents who have inadvertently left their child, it becomes clear than an overwhelming number of those parents were considered great parents.  The idea that only bad parents inadvertently leave their child in a hot car to die is simply NOT true.

Facing the Facts:  It can happen to the best of parents.

As a parent, I have wondered how in the heck someone could forget about their child in the backseat?!  It seems incredibly odd, so I’ve done some reading.  I have read countless stories, blogs and personal interviews with parents who have left their child in a hot car and the thing that becomes most obvious to me is these people were more often than not, good parents. The overwhelming majority of these parents had wanted children very badly and had agonized over all of the parental decisions we all battle, such as whether to use cloth/disposable diapers, and, What age should I start my child swimming?  Do I have covers on all of the electrical outlets in the house? How do I choose a safe daycare? Will my child be safe at daycare? Are all sharp corners on the furniture wrapped? Do I have all cleaning chemicals and medications in my home locked and out of reach? Do I have layered security around my doors so my child cannot slip out of the house? Where should I send my child to pre-school, elementary school? Do I push them to learn things quickly or at their own pace?…………………as you know, the questions are endless!  We check and double check rooms and cars for safety and think about our children 24 hours a day and how we can make them safer and more successful in life.

In many of these tragedies, a parent became involved in the activities of their day and forgot their child. How many times have you become preoccupied with pressing issues while you were with your child?  As I learned more, there is a theme in many of these tragedies such as parents switched up routines and a different parent than normal was taking the child to daycare. The parent taking the child gets busy driving, thinking about the tasks ahead and forgot about the child asleep in the back seat.  Of course, we all know a moving car has a way of making children fall asleep. The child becomes quiet and the parent continues on their normal routine and simply forgets the child.  I cannot imagine the horror one feels when they realize they have left their child.  Trying to understand the horror these parents are coping with is extremely uncomfortable for each of us.  Frankly, it is easier to dismiss it as “crazy and tragic” and say “it will never happen to me because I’m a good parent”.

Convincing ourselves it could not happen to us “good parents” is sheer nonsense.  Every parent knows that it takes only mere seconds for your child to be injured.  The constant media attention to these recent tragedies is a great start to showing clearly that there is a need for technology to help reduce the number of hot car child deaths.  I would encourage you to read about the efforts of KidsAndCars.org. Whether or not you sign the petition, you would be wise to take advantage of their free informational resources!

KidsAndCars.org is a unique non-profit organization and may be one of the few of it’s kind.  I was fortunate to hear Janette Fennell of KidsAndCars.org speak at a conference and I was moved by her story.  Fennell founded KidsAndCars.org after a traumatic ordeal that almost cost her family’s life. Ever since learning of the organization, I have blogged about their great efforts and supported them in their petitions for safer auto manufacturer legislation. I would encourage you to do the same. As a parent, I have found so many helpful tips and reminders when it comes to my children around cars.

Controversial Hot Car Death in Atlanta

In late June, we all became aware of the Atlanta child that was left in his father’s SUV for seven hours while he went to work on June 18, 2014. The temperature that day topped 92 degrees.  His father is facing murder charges and child cruelty.  Police and investigators continue to investigate the actions of the father in the days and weeks preceding the child’s death.  The media attention has tapped into parents’ outrage, garnered national headlines and sparked wide-range debate about whether more can be done to prevent such deaths.  If in fact, the father did not have any malicious intent and if the incident was purely accidently, then parents who have experienced the same tragedy say there is no punishment, charges or prison time than will be worse than the personal hell he will have to cope with for the rest of his life. As parents, we can only struggle to try to wrap our minds around the daily torture should the same thing happen to us.

Prevention and Awareness is Our Best Defense

KidsAndCars.org is an organization that not only gives real life examples and reminders of how to keep your child safe in the car, but they also work tirelessly to raise funds and get petitions signed to fund safety technology research for safer cars for our children.  Currently, they are circulating a petition  to provide funding for research and development of innovative technology; identify, evaluate and test new technology to accelerate implementation of the most feasible and effective solutions; and require installation of technology in all vehicles and/or child safety seats to prevent children from being left alone in vehicles.

I encourage you to sign their petition to the White House calling for technology to prevent child hot car deaths (petition details below).

Even if you do not sign the petition, visit KidsAndCars.org for practical tips for preventing child injuries and deaths.  I was surprised when I read the helpful reminders on the KidsAndCars.org website, and I have incorporated many of the tips in to my life. As I’m not the parent who usually chauffeurs our children to their various activities, I am the parent who could most likely “forget”.  Truly, I have nightmares about this very thing.  Inadvertently harming your own child is unthinkable, thus, awareness and prevention is our best defense against these tragic events.  Join me in supporting KidsAndCars.org and child safety organizations to promote safety for all children!

If you would like more information on how to get involved with KidsAndCars.org, visit our website, allinjuryattorney.com or give us a call!  We welcome suggestions and feedback in supporting this great organization and promoting safety for all children. Reach one of our attorneys seven days a week, toll free (314) 276-1681 or locally (314) 276-1681