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The Cold Hard Facts About Hot Car Deaths and Kids

The Cold Hard Facts About Hot Car Deaths and Kids

June 15, 2018
By Bary Gassman

According to the National Safety Council, an average of 37 children die each year from pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH). The younger the child, the higher the risk for getting unintentionally left in a hot car. Over half of PVH deaths are a result of a child getting left in the car by a caregiver who simply forgets he or she is transporting a child.

National Safety Council Report

Too many children are victims of wrongful deaths from PVH. The National Safety Council recently released their report, “Kids in Hot Cars’ a Legislative Look Across the U.S.” In this report, the Council seeks to bring attention to need for stronger legislation and increased awareness of the risk of PVH.

The report points to encouraging childcare providers to create policies that prevent leaving children in hot vehicles. It also seeks to bring attention to factors that could cause a caregiver to forget that he or she has left a child in a vehicle, including distracted behavior.

Are Vehicle Heatstroke Prevention Technologies Reliable?

New technologies are available to prevent children from getting forgotten in the back of a hot car, but they are not foolproof. During the last 20 years, 16 children have died from PVH in Illinois despite the development and integration of heatstroke prevention technologies. A recent study by the Children’s Hospital of Philidelphia evaluated three products that were designed to detect kids in hot cars to help prevent PVH. None of the products were shown to be completely reliable and consistent.

GM’s Rear seat reminder system has sensors that activate when a vehicle’s rear door is opened before or after a vehicle is started. A notification alerts the driver upon turning off the car to look in the back seat. If the driver restarts the car without opening the rear door, there will be no additional reminder. Although GM’s technology does not require any additional action beyond a driver’s normal routine, there is still room for error.

Increased awareness of the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car needs to remain a priority. The death of just one child is one too many, especially when PVH deaths are completely preventable.

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