The number of children being left in hot cars, often resulting in their deaths, is a growing concern for people around the country. Kids and Cars report that on average, 38 children die every year from being left in a hot car. Last year saw the most fatalities on record, with 52 children dying after being discovered left in hot cars either as a result of them being forgotten, left in the car on purpose, or somehow gaining access to a car and locking themselves inside.
More children died in hot cars last year than any other year in history. :( Technology that already exists could have prevented these unthinkable losses. #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock and always check the back seat for baby. pic.twitter.com/Uvq4c32Qvr— KidsAndCars.org (@KidsAndCars) June 20, 2019
Currently in 2019, 23 children have already died from being left in hot cars, and it's not even August yet. Just last week NYC resident Juan Rodriguez came back to his vehicle after working a full day at a VA Hospital to discover his 1-year-old twins in the backseat of his car. Rodriguez had forgotten to drop his children at daycare, unintentionally leaving them in his car for the entire day. Sadly, the twins were pronounced dead on the scene when emergency responders arrived. Rodriguez is now facing criminal charges in their deaths.
Last month an almost-two-year-old girl died after being left for two hours in a vehicle by her mother. The mother is facing charges in this death as well. The news reports seem to come almost weekly, often with tragic results, leaving many to wonder how anyone could possibly forget their child anywhere, much less in a car on a swelteringly hot day. Experts say that people shouldn't be so quick to judge and that anyone is capable of forgetting a child in a car. David Diamond, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida told Consumer Reports that "forgotten baby syndrome" is real, and maybe a result of a memory problem. "The most common response is that only bad or negligent parents forget kids in cars," Diamond says. "It's a matter of circumstances. It can happen to everyone."
Entrepreneurs and organizations across the country seem to be trying anything they can to prevent these tragic and unnecessary deaths. A Missouri police department gave away free rearview hangers and stickers with the hopes that it will remind parents of their precious cargo in the backseat. Experts have suggested leaving something like a purse, phone or even shoe in the backseat with children to make sure parents are reminded to check their backseat. Car seats are now being manufactured with built-in sensors to alert parents when their child is getting too hot, or there is no movement in their car seat.
Despite all the technology and awareness campaigns, sadly children are still dying from being left in hot cars. "Education is very important, but education alone won’t end these tragedies," Jenette Fennell, founder, and president of KidsAndCars.org told Consumer Reports. "It’s going to take education along with technology to help our imperfect brains."