AUSTIN, Texas. According to CNN, 30 children this year have died due to heatstroke after being left in a hot car. Hot car deaths are tragic accidental deaths linked to cars. Often the parents or caretakers are held at fault. Just recently, a boy in Texas died when his mother left him in the back seat of her car, thinking she had dropped him off at day care.
The law holds individuals criminally and civilly accountable when children die due to being left in a hot car. This means that caretakers can be held responsible if they forget to remove a child from a hot car. Yet, is the problem larger than parental and caretaker negligence, and one of a society that is so busy and sleep-deprived that parents and caretakers forget their own children? The brain sometimes relies on the power of habit, so if a parent’s plans change, he or she may forget a child is in the backseat, especially if someone else usually drops off the child at day care. But, can technology help?
New legislation called the Hot Cars Act of 2016 would require that all passenger vehicles be equipped with technology to alert parents if the child is left in the backseat of the car. Much like a headlights on warning, the alarm would signal to parents that a child is still in the car.
According to NBC New York, even children who survive being left in a hot car can be left with irreversible brain damage. This can lead to life-long developmental issues, cognitive issues, and sensorimotor problems. Parents whose children are injured in this manner could face years of medical bills and rehabilitative care for their children. Caretakers may need proper training in how to avoid the kind of mental errors that lead to hot car deaths. Parents whose children are personally injured due to being left in a hot car by a caretaker should also know their rights. The Luke Dow Law Firm in Austin is a personal injury law firm that fights to protect the rights of those who have been hurt due to another person’s negligence.
Caretakers, bus drivers, and professional drivers may be held to a higher standard of care in ensuring that children aren’t left behind in hot vehicles. Bus drivers are often informed to inspect buses to ensure no children have been left inside, but without assistive technology, mistakes may still happen. As technology improves to protect children, caretakers may be expected to use it.
The consequences of hot car injuries and death are just too high. While many hot car deaths are the result of a parent’s honest and tragic mistake, lawmakers and communities are working together to find better ways to prevent these tragedies. At the end of the day, good habits may be able to protect your child from a lapse in memory. Get into the habit of checking the back seat of your car, every time, even when you know your child isn’t with you. Keep a purse or phone in the backseat to make sure you’ll always check the back before leaving your car. Have a plan in place with your day care or childcare provider. If your child doesn’t show up as expected, ask for a phone call. Make sure childcare providers who transport your children have training and plans in place to prevent hot car deaths.
Finally, child safety is everyone’s responsibility. Call 911 if you see a child alone in a car. You may also have rights if your child was hurt in a car due to another person’s error or negligence. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, visit www.lukedow.com to learn more.