Summer is here and temperatures are skyrocketing. Parents say they would never leave their children unattended in a car, yet in a world filled with constant distractions, they sometimes do. According to the National Safety Council, nearly three times as many children have died after being left in hot cars this year in comparison to this time last year.
One case in Atlanta received a lot of media attention when a father left his 22 month old in a parked hot car. Harris strapped his son Cooper into his rear facing car seat in the back seat of the car planning to take Cooper to daycare. Instead of dropping Cooper off at daycare, Harris continued to Home Depot, where he worked. At 9:25 a.m. Harris arrived to work, leaving Cooper strapped in his car seat. Later that morning, Harris and some co-workers left work to go to lunch. At approximately 12:45pm, Harris went back to his car. He did not notice that his son was still in the back seat. Sometime after 4 p.m. Harris was driving to see a movie. This is when he noticed his son dead in his car seat. This father is now facing murder charges.
On hot days, the inside of a vehicle heats up so quickly children can suffer from heat stroke and die. According to NoHeatStroke.org, so far this year 12 children have died from heatstroke in cars. Last year 24 children died this way. More than half of the cases were due to forgetful parents who had strapped them into car seats. It may happen to drivers who have a change from their usual routines, such as a parent who doesn’t normally take their child to day care.
Car temperatures typically heat up in the first twenty minutes. Program manager of the National Safety Council advises parents to place an object with their child that they will need when they leave the car, such as a cellphone or their left shoe. You can’t go to far without your left shoe!
Automakers are coming up with ideas on how to prevent this from happening. General Motors is introducing a new feature in the 2017 GMC Acadia to help prevent such tragedies. A warning tone in the center of the Acadia’s speedometer will sound and remind drivers to “Look in Rear Seat.” The feature uses the same back door sensors that tell you a door is open when you are driving. If those sensors detect a back door being opened or closed before the driver gets in and starts the car or anytime the engine is running, then the back seat warning is triggered. This feature is not optional and will be included in all Acadias.
Do you think this new sensor should be standard in all cars? Do you believe this sensor will prevent future deaths? Give me your thoughts!