On June 7, 2017, via a webcast, U.S. Representatives Tim Ryan (D-13-OH), Peter King (R-2-NY) and Jan Schakowsky (D-9-IL) introduced the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act (HOT CARS Act of 2017, H.R. 2801), a critical piece of legislation to prevent children from being needlessly killed and injured by heatstroke when unknowingly left alone in vehicles.
The bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a final rule requiring cars to be equipped with a system to alert the driver if a passenger remains in the back seat when a car is turned off.
This bipartisan initiative has already received widespread support from more than 20 of the nation’s leading public health, consumer and safety organizations, as well as an expert in neuroscience and the brain memory system, along with families who have lost their child or were seriously injured due to child vehicular heatstroke. The timing of the bill’s introduction coincides with the kickoff of the National Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention Campaign by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“No child should endure the tragedy of dying while trapped in a hot vehicle. The unfortunate reality is that even good, loving and attentive parents can get distracted. Studies have shown that this can happen to anyone, anywhere. That is why I am proud to have Representatives King and Schakowsky join me in introducing this important legislation. Our cars can already alert drivers when they leave their keys in the car, their lights on, or their trunk open – none of which are life threatening. It is not unusual for the government to mandate safety features to protect lives. Cars are mandated to have seat belts, interior trunk-releases, and rear backup cameras. Our legislation would move us one step closer to getting this inexpensive technology in every car on the road to help save the lives of children nationwide,” said Congressman Tim Ryan (D-13-OH).
This is a GIANT step in the right direction, yet it still leaves gaps until which time all caregivers own a new vehicle with such solutions in place. When seat belts were introduced it took many years to be a common place solution. The same is true as to any improvements within car seats. As shown in the figure, Todays Solutions, we need to continue to attack this problem from all fronts, until which time we have the confidence that we have changed or protected the lifestyles/environment that the caregivers live within. Until then we need to be diligent on all fronts.
In the United States, as of this writing, we have lost 11 children and a Canine Officer. In most cases the temperatures were less than 90 degrees. In fact, of the 11 children, 5 of them occurred in states where there is an established Good Samaritan Law. The same was true for the Canine Officer. This demonstrates that as we put solutions in place they are not the end all.
There are technologies and solutions/tips today that can be installed a car and new ones being developed within new cars and car seats. Yet each require the purchase of such and maintenance by a caregiver, as well needing the ability to move these solutions with the child or pets as they are moved between cars of the caregivers (Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, Babysitter, etc).
As reported by US Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration in a July 2015 report: Functional Assessment of Unattended Child Reminder Systems:
“Some of the products evaluated required more user interaction than others. Some required user actions that, if not completed, would lead to the system not functioning properly.”
Therefore we need to continually help (REMIND) all caregivers during their busy lives that they might have had a child or pet with them. As unbelievable as this may be we hear of 37 children dying each year and an unknown number or pets. This issue impacts all demographics and all countries, as we hear stories of Fire and Police officials, Mom’s, Dad’s Grandparents, etc.
So what else can be done? Again it will take all fronts to eliminate this problem, yet an area that is not getting the attention required is that of Awareness, in a strategic way. Today many companies and organizations that are working to solve this problem, including BabySavTM a 501(c)3 organization, expect the caregiver to take some responsibility and invest in a solution. Yet BabySav recognizes in most cases this will not happen, at least not in large enough numbers to make a significant difference. This is why the focus needs to be on where caregivers are going once they exit the vehicle: to stores, offices, etc. The more locations that these stickers are placed, the more the emphasis there will be on awareness, which can help to eliminate this situation.
BabySav is working with retailers and businesses across the country to establish new precedents and have this iconic and trademark sticker placed on the entrances to buildings and offices, on shopping carts, and eventually as push notifications so that they are seen every day. Much like a stop sign, BabySav labels will become a subconscious awareness creating a response to not forget, for any reason.
Until caregivers accept that it could happen to them we need to be solving this from a different perspective, which is what BabySav is focused on.
As stated previously we need solutions from all fronts to give full coverage and protection, as there are gaps in each solution today. BabySav is the one solution that will help fill those gaps while complimenting each of the other sectors to help solve the solution as a whole.
There is NO reason we should lose another child or pet due to our busy lives or distractions. These children are the future and need to have the opportunity to demonstrate what they can bring to this world.