Hot car deaths – can they be prevented?

Posted: July 29, 2014

The case of the Georgia father accused of intentionally leaving his son to die in an overheated car continues to shock and spark debate around the nation. But as disturbing as this case is, a string of similar cases continue to emerge in the U.S., and yet another child was killed last week in Wichita, Kan.

The question now is whether accidental deaths of infants in cars may be prevented; and if so, how? Are parents solely responsible for preventing a child’s death? Should the government mandate certain safety measures, such as a driver-reminder alert, in order to prevent accidental deaths?

CNN reports another car safety feature — much like an unbuckled seat belt alert– will become a requirement in 2018. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a final rule in March that requires all cars (made after 2018) to have rear-visibility technology. According to the government agency, more than 200 people (about 30% include children under 5) are killed annually in “unintentional backing” incidents.

In terms of overheated cars, however, the NHTSA concluded that the technology was not sufficient enough to reduce infant heatstroke. Until the necessary resources are available to create such safety tool, here are some tips to prevent accidentally leaving a child alone in a car:

• Look before you lock. Even put a reminder, such as a cell phone or shoe (something you wouldn’t leave the car without), near the backseat to remind you that there is a child on board.
• Always lock your car and keep the keys out of reach; 30% of fatalities result from children deciding to play in the car.
• Always be aware of your surroundings, whether in or outside a vehicle.

By Katrina Do
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