Tag Archives: hot car deaths

Could it have been you? Could you ever be the parent that left their child in a car?

I can’t get it out of my mind. After reading the explanation of how it is a parent could be forgetful and end up leaving their child in the car, it didn’t take much for me to recall ways that I have been distracted or known others who were. Oh, not by leaving a child all day in a car, but. . .

I will never forget the time when our AnnaLeah was 2 and her younger brother had just been born. She and her 6 older siblings stayed overnight with my aunt so that I could have a break at home with the newborn. Brave woman. When we went to pick up the kids later, we found out that they had had some excitement. . .

My aunt put AnnaLeah on her bed to change her diaper. In the process, something came up and my aunt told AnnaLeah to stay right there, not to move, and she would be right back. As it turns out, while AnnaLeah lay there obediently, her great-aunt had forgotten about her and taken the other 6 for a walk with the dog down the road nearby. All of a sudden, my aunt realized somebody was missing and said, “Where’s AnnaLeah?”

They hurried back to the house and there AnnaLeah was waiting patiently on the bed like she was told to do! We always teased my aunt about that incident and laughed about it many times over the years because we thought it so funny. But how tragic that would have been for all of us had AnnaLeah been left in a car and forgotten. Imagine.

It could happen to anyone. Even me. Even you or someone you know.

Or, like today, our family had medical appointments at Duke Clinic where we left the car with the Valet service. After getting the parking stub and handing over the keys, Jerry got his things from the car and started to go inside the building and then thought, “Did I leave the parking ticket in the car?” It turns out he hadn’t. But, in the rush of trying to get somewhere, the wires got crisscrossed.

Then, later, while we were waiting to get our car, another woman went up to the Valet booth and said that the woman with her had left her purse in the car which had already been parked. In a hurry. Forgetful.

The point is that no one intends for these children to be forgotten in hot cars, and we could work together as a society to prevent these unbearably tragic deaths. If only we would.

Hot car deathsLook before you lock


How We Can Protect Children From Dying in Hot Cars? To err is to be human. But we can do this.

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.

Let it be me, Lord.

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?

Hot car deaths


“U.S. won’t mandate tech fix to prevent hot car deaths”

A Detroit News article from a year ago indicated that NHTSA — despite a mandate from Congress in 2012 to study the problem — had no plans to mandate technology to prevent hot car deaths.

A group called Kids and Cars noted that Congress granted NHTSA authority to study technological fixes in 2012 and called on NHTSA to take faster action. Senate Democrats this month introduced legislation that would direct NHTSA to conduct new research into the issue and “either commence a rule making within a year of completing the two-year research initiative or to submit a report to Congress on its reasons for not commencing such a rule making.”

NHTSA has been studying since 2011 the issue of whether after-market devices would be effective in preventing children from being left behind. No major automaker has added any in-vehicle technology to prevent children from being left behind. In a new report released Friday, NHTSA said its review of seven aftermarket products — including three unveiled last year — “offer product developers a set of testing applications that may be used to benchmark their designs and to improve system performance.”

Some systems send an alert to a driver’s mobile phone if they forgot a child, while others send an alert to the key fob or horn. They could also be added to more new car seats, Rosekind said.

General Motors vice president for safety Jeff Boyer said the automaker is also studying the technology, but he said in the meantime it is important to keep up the work on outreach and education to parents. A Chevrolet Volt was part of the demonstration with Safe Kids Worldwide showing firefighters responding to a report of a child left behind in a car.

Some industry experts think automakers are concerned about liability issues and the need for any system to be nearly perfect which is one reason none have added the devices to vehicles.

Really? Surely with all of the technological gizmos appearing in new cars and the ability for smartphones to be connected to vehicles, we can conquer this problem.

Surely we can take on this Goliath as a nation. Sounds like this issue is a good candidate for a Roundtable to address this problem. We cannot let these tragedies continue just because, “It would be difficult to justify an expensive technological fix to address a small number of deaths on a cost-benefit analysis.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think that the answer lies in a combination of personal and social responsibility.  Come on, America, let’s tackle this tragedy together!

Tragic deaths

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