Texas Child Becomes 30th Hot Car Fatality in U.S.
Posted on September 19th, 2016 by Zane Cagle
Child Dies as New Legislation is Introduced
A one year old boy died in the back of his mother’s car this week, becoming the 30th fatally injured child in the US this year to die of heatstroke after being left in a car. The mother, a Texas attorney, thought she had dropped her son off at daycare before she went to work according to police. However, the baby was still in the rear-racing seat when she showed up at the daycare to pick him up.
As I have said before, social media can be particularly rough and judgmental on parents who inadvertently leave their children in hot cars. In my last article, I encouraged you to read some of the parent’s stories. The reason that so many of don’t want to read their stores is we can identify with those parents. Case in point–the parent in Texas is an attorney who was busy and inadvertently left her child in the car…………..I could personally identify with her story.
It’s hard to allow yourself to personally identify with someone who inadvertently injures or kills their own child—maybe it is almost just too much for us to think about. As a parent, I’ve struggled with it and it is far easier to just think, “it couldn’t happen to me, I’m an attentive parent”. When you think about the amount of guilt a parent goes through and the agony. However, I’m certain that Texas mom thought it would never happen to her either nor did the other 29 parents this year.
When my kids were little, I was introduced to Janette Fennell of KidsAndCars.org and discovered just how common these tragedies were (along with multiple other types of child-car related injuries and death, see KidsandCars.org).
I was one of those parents that thought, “That could never happen on my watch”! But, after hearing their stories and seeing actual data, you realize that it could easily happen to you. Parents are particularly vulnerable to leaving their kids in the car when there is a change in the routine.
Hot Cars Act of 2016
Under the new act, all new passenger vehicles would need to be equipped with technology to alert drivers if a child is left in the backseat. “When we have technology to solve a problem, then we have to push it out into the private sector”, said U.S. Rep Tim Ryan. “Our society is so busy today, there is so much going on with parents running from here to there, ” continued Ryan. This summer, General Motors said it will install a warning, a tone and a reminder message in the speedometer of all 2017 Acadias that says “Look in the Rear Seat”. GM plans to introduce the feature on other four-door GM models in the future.
It’s a simple sounding feature considering we have bells and whistles in our cars to remind us to change the oil, the wiper fluid and put on our seatbelt. As well, many of our cars not only tell us the radio station we are listening, but the name of the song, the artist and sometimes the recording label; so how much of a bigger deal would it be to have a simple reminder to “look in the back seat” if it would even save one child’s life?
Fatal Memory Errors
Dr. David Diamond, a psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of South Florida has studied fatal memory errors involving children in hot cars for the past 12 years. “What’s very clear to me is that these children were not forgotten by parents that were reckless with regard to care for their children,” he said. He further said that parents need reminders that a child is in the backseat because stress and sleep deprivation can cause the brain of a parent to revert to habits and forget plans they may have made to drop children off at day care. As a new parent, you are all too familiar with the sleep-deprivation and stress that comes with being a new parent.
Education alone has not been solving the problem. According to Fennell, founder of KidsAndCars.org, parents are sleep-deprived and it is not asking too much of car companies to step up and provide a reminder to help keep the most vulnerable passengers safe.
Motor Vehicle Crashes–Still the Most Common Cause of Child Death
Ranking number one as the cause of death for young children is still a motor vehicle crash. When children are in properly installed child safety seats, the number of fatalities decrease. Children should always be in the correct size seat for their age/weight and they must be restrained. The statistics on the prevention of death and injury are overwhelming. Obviously, child safety seats cannot 100% prevent all injuries and fatalities but they greatly reduce the numbers.
The hot car deaths of children that average 37 a year is just overwhelmingly high and it seems if we have technology to assist a parent/care giver, then why not implement it? Thankfully, it would seem several car manufacturers are on board with this simple innovation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, seek legal representation as soon as possible.