I had read a blogpost before by a parent who had lost a child in a hot car death. And recently I have heard about the increase of such deaths and the push to get doable solutions to reduce these horrible tragedies.
Then I read an article today by Janette Fennell, director of KidsAndCars.org, who mentioned the need for parent education but along with other solutions:
. . . education is not enough. We cannot educate every single parent, grandparent, babysitter and caregiver in the country. And most parents don’t believe that the worst mistake a parent can make could happen to them. But blaming them only deepens the heart-rending impact of these incidents for families who are already overwhelmed by guilt and grief. To err is to be human. How We Can Protect Children From Dying in Hot Cars
Reading that immediately brought to mind the days and weeks after our truck underride crash, on May 4, 2013 (a date embedded in my mind) in which we lost AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13). I was in the hospital myself for almost a week and due to the circumstances it was some time before I heard the news that AnnaLeah had died instantly and later the news that Mary had died due to her injuries.
When I did find out, I can’t really describe it for you to fully grasp, but I just wanted it to be me instead of them. “Why couldn’t it have been me? They had so much life yet to live. Let me take their place.” But, of course, nothing was going to change the awful reality. They were gone. They would never come back.
And, as I learned the circumstances of the crash, that a truck had hit us spinning us around and hitting us again — sending us backwards into the back of another truck (whose weak, ineffective underride guard failed) and AnnaLeah & Mary in the back seat took the brunt of it, their bodies broken by the truck — I wanted it to have been me. [Especially since I had been driving and if we had simply rear-ended the truck, it would have been me that died.]
They were totally innocent; they had done nothing to deserve their lives to be snatched senselessly from them. I wasn’t sure that I could bear going on living with the knowledge that they were gone and I had lived.
I think of that now — knowing that I was not responsible for their deaths (although I could have left the restaurant 5 minutes sooner and not been in that place at that time). And then I try to imagine the guilt those parents must feel for having left their child in a car — even though they did not do it on purpose. On top of the ongoing grief which will be a daily part of their lives.
Makes my heart break.
Today, I read another article by a professor of cognitive and neural sciences who has been researching this problem for some time now and says that it is a problem of habit memory taking over — especially when parents are stressed and sleep-deprived and. . . well, read more here to understand what could happen to any of us:
An epidemic of children dying in hot cars: a tragedy that can be prevented by David Diamond, June 20, 2016
Oh, my goodness! I just read a couple of the comments on this article. One person commented that it was high time that we make use of technology which could make these tragedies a thing of the past. The other person was disgusted that they would be expected to foot the bill for a feature that they would never make use of just to make up for “negligent parents!”
That attitude makes my blood boil!
I’m glad to see that one manufacturer has put a solution into one of their new cars:
This year, one manufacturer, GMC, finally stepped up and included a reminder system in one of their 2017 models. Just one vehicle, the Acadia, in the entire United States being sold will have a reminder system. GM unveils new feature to prevent child deaths in hot cars
But what about the rest of their models? And what about the rest of the car companies? What kind of society are we that would think it is okay to remind ourselves (and our consumers) that we forgot to turn off our lights (so our battery doesn’t get worn down) but refuse to pay the cost to protect innocent lives from being tragically ended?
Is it going to take a federal mandate to require manufacturers to put the available technology into every car? Is this one more safety matter that the industry would successfully block and declare that it is “not cost effective” because too few lives would be saved compared to the costs?
Another situation of preventable tragedies.
What will be the outcome, America? Will we do what is right? Will we be compassionate?