Tragedy can strike at any time, and hot car deaths are a terrible way for a parent to lose a child. Consumer Reports wants everyone to know these deaths are not necessarily the parent’s fault and that automakers can do more to prevent them from happening.
Hot car deaths are a national issue
From humid Florida summers to Montana winters, hot car deaths can happen anywhere in the country. These tragic events have occurred during all four seasons and when daily temperatures have ranged from 69 degrees to 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the vast majority of hot car deaths, unfortunately, a parent or other relative was responsible for the incident. Most of these cases were accidents. A large majority of victims were children, younger than two years old, who were accidentally left in the car. Many of the older victims got into a car on their own when no one was watching.
Most of these tragic cases are considered accidents because parents or caregivers forgot the child was still in the car. Consumer Reports said the stress of parenting and everyday life was why many caregivers had a momentary lapse in memory. And it could happen to anyone. Hot car deaths involve people from all walks of life, including police officers, teachers, and even a rocket scientist.
This momentary lapse of memory is all that’s needed for an otherwise good parent to unknowingly leave a child in the car. That’s why Consumer Reports believes that automakers can do more to help prevent hot car deaths.
New safety tools
Earlier this year, Consumer Reports called for political action to force automakers to add safety features that will reduce hot car deaths in the U.S. These safety features are different from aftermarket ones drivers can buy. The problem with aftermarket safety features is that they rely on the drivers to be proactive. According to data, most drivers simply aren’t.
The safety features Consumer Reports advocates will make it so parents and caregivers won’t have to be proactive. The car will alert them to their rear seats and could be enough to stop the majority of hot car deaths. Some automakers, like GM, Hyundai, Kia, and Nissan, have already announced they’ll make standard advanced safety features designed to prevent hot car deaths in the near future.
However, advocacy groups don’t think these features will do enough, especially in cases where the child enters the car on their own. Plus, until those safety features become standard, there will be years of hot car deaths.
Be proactive to stop hot car deaths
Until automakers design and implement safety features, parents and caregivers will have to be proactive to prevent hot car deaths. Here are some tips from Consumer Reports.
Rather than lock your car with the remote, use your key. This will force you to get closer to your car and look inside to ensure you didn’t forget your child. Place something you always keep by your side in the backseat. Whether it’s your purse, wallet, or phone, anything you already habitually have near your body will do.
To prevent cases of children getting into a car on their own, always be sure to lock your car when it’s parked, even if you don’t have kids. Several incidents have involved a neighbor’s child wandering into the neighbor’s car because it was unlocked.