KidsAndCars.org, a national leader and organization focused solely on the prevention of injury and death to children in and around motor vehicles, shares the concerns of the National Safety Council about the unacceptable and unnecessary dangers children face if left in hot cars. Yet, the most effective solution to bringing an end to these predictable and preventable tragedies is with education and
. After decades of warning the public about this problem, it is crystal clear that education alone will not bring an end to these
. As education efforts and public awareness are at an all-time high, the number of children dying in hot cars is also at an all-time high.
(51) children died in hot cars in the United States, which is the highest number of fatalities in one year that KidsAndCars.org has documented in the over 20 years of collecting data. On average, 38 children die in hot cars every year. A 34% increase in 2018 fatalities based on the average number of deaths per year is not only unacceptable but unconscionable as well.
Thankfully, this tragic problem has a solution that is affordable and available: requiring cars to be equipped with an alert system that would warn a driver about the presence of a back seat passenger when a car is turned off. Similar to the deadly problem of children being backed over because of blindzones behind vehicles, the technological fix was rear view cameras on cars. Today, because of bi-partisan legislation enacted in 2008 directing the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a safety regulation all new cars are now equipped with rear view cameras as standard equipment. This technology has significantly decreased the number of children being killed. Furthermore, the federal requirement that all vehicles (model year 2002 and newer) be equipped with internal trunk releases has basically eradicated trunk entrapment as a cause of death for children. These technologies are life savers.
KidsAndCars.org will again take the lead and work with Congress to introduce and promote passage of the Hot Cars Act of 2019 which calls for the use of technology to end these disturbing deaths. A system warning drivers to remember vulnerable back seat passengers is a commonsense solution to these heartbreaking deaths. Rear seat passenger warnings are already available and should be in every vehicle similar to rear view cameras and other safety equipment. We are failing our children each day that this effective technology isn’t included as standard equipment in every vehicle. The consequence is that our littlest passengers will pay for this delay with their precious lives.
Yet, auto manufacturers don’t have to wait for the enactment of the Hot Cars Act and the government to issue a safety standard -- they can decide today to put effective warning systems in all cars, just like they do for when we forget to turn off our headlights, leave our keys in the car or fail to buckle our seat belts. Installing this technology brings us another step closer to solving this deadly problem once and for all. It is critical that Congress act on legislation, that the U.S. DOT issue a safety regulation and that auto manufacturers put effective warning systems in all cars to prevent needless deaths of children in hot cars.
It is vital to understand the
that explains how a child can be unknowingly left behind.
Please review a recently published paper written by Dr. David Diamond, a psychology professor at the University of South Florida.
Dr. Diamond has been studying the phenomenon of children being unknowingly left in hot cars and how the human memory systems process information for decades. His conclusion is that “we cannot train our brains not to forget” further emphasizing the need for technology as a solution to hot car tragedies that nobody believes could happen to them.
And please take note: this can and does happen to anyone, it doesn't matter who you are.