Keeping Our Kids Safe: An Unexpected Danger On the Roads
The driving experience is important to all vehicle owners, no matter what their driving preferences or environment. Technology for the vehicle has come a long way and allows drivers to tailor their vehicle to their needs. Music fans invest in quality stereo systems. Frequent drivers show interest in devices like our K40 radar detectors. As for parents, there is technology being developed that may help protect families against a tragedy that happens far too regularly.
To date in 2016, sixteen children have died after being left unattended in a hot car. According to noheatstroke.org, 677 kids have died since 1998 – an average of about 37 per year. Nearly all of these deaths are accidents; most occur when busy parents forget their child in the backseat, whereas other children climb into the car to play and accidentally lock themselves in. Regardless of how they happened, each death is a highly preventable tragedy.
Just how risky is it for children to be trapped in hot cars? Because kids are smaller, their body temperatures rise very quickly. When it hits 104 degrees, they develop heat stroke, and at 107, the child will likely die. This is not a gradual process, either…children typically pass away within a half hour; about the time it takes to run a simple errand.
Many parents are quick to judge others who find themselves in this terrible situation. It’s easy to righteously question how someone could possibly forget their kid in the car, yet it can and has happened to very safety conscious parents. In most situations, forgetting a child has everything to do with the inner workings of the brain, not the attitudes of the parents.
The part of the brain that controls routine can sometimes overpower the memory function, leading to these fatal lapses in judgement by busy parents. Because our minds become accustomed to our daily routines, a child who is not normally in the backseat can be forgotten, especially if he or she is silent for the entire ride.
So what can we do to protect our children against this danger?
There are a number of simple fixes meant to keep your mind focused when travelling with a child. Parenting.com suggests placing one of your child’s toys in the front of the car as a physical reminder that they’re in the backseat. Another suggestion is to put an item like your purse or briefcase in the backseat to ensure that you’ll remove your child before you walk away from your vehicle.
It also doesn’t hurt to educate children on the dangers of playing in cars. By warning that the car is not a safe place to be without an adult around, children will be less likely to climb in and get stuck when mom or dad may not be watching.
However, if relying solely on memory tricks still leaves you with an uneasy feeling, there are a variety of different devices on the market that can help prevent these horrible tragedies.
Some car manufacturers have begun to install alert systems in their vehicles for the sole purpose of saving a child. GMC introduced a ‘rear seat reminder’ function in their 2017 Acadia that prompts drivers to check the backseat before they leave the car. Basically, the car remembers when the backseat doors are opened before a trip, and once the driver shuts off the engine, the vehicle alerts them to check the backseat.
While GMC hopes to eventually place this technology into all of their vehicles, it will be some time before this is a standard feature. Thankfully, portable technology, much like GPS and radar detection systems, has been developed. The ChildMinder system from Baby Alert connects to a child’s car seat and sets off an alarm if he or she is left in a parked car. There are also phone apps that remind parents that their baby is with them before they get out of their vehicle. These types of ‘guardian’ technology act as a ‘second brain’ for parents in case they forget that their child is in the car.
Although these tragedies will continue to occur, we hope the suggestions and tips in this post ensure that it does not happen to you. If you have young children, get in the habit of checking the backseat, and always remember to lock your cars when they are parked at home. For further protection, invest in a portable alert system that acts as an additional safeguard when taking small children on the road. Just like K40 radar detection and laser jamming systems, add-on backseat passenger technology gives drivers can give you peace-of-mind driving confidence.