Since 1998, the average number of children who have died after being left in the car per year is 37. Many times, parents, guardians, nannies, or other caregivers simply forget the child is with them. Once the child is left in the car, they face the possibility of hyperthermia, or overheating. In many ways, the same factors that contribute to distracted driving also contribute to these sorts of accidents.
Factors in Forgetting Children in the Car
There is significant overlap between distracted driving and leaving children in the car, especially in the area of technological distractions such as talking on the phone or texting. Parents these days have to balance many different things and usually are driving to and from multiple places for errands.
Some factors of forgetfulness include:
- Talking on the phone
- Being distracted by other children
- Running multiple errands
- Unexpected changes in schedule
These deaths, although tragic, aren't statistical outliers; they are a devastating result of distraction and multitasking. More importantly, they are avoidable. There are safe-guards that parents can put into place so that they do not forget about their baby or toddler in the back seat. Placing a cell phone, purse, or other important item on the back seat or floor of the car so that you have to reach into the back of the car before leaving it is an excellent way to make sure that you haven't forgotten your child in their car seat. There are also wireless proximity sensors that can be attached to a child’s seatbelt / car seat chest device so that a caretaker or parent will be alerted if they leave the vehicle without bringing the child with them.
Parents and caretakers must be willing to give up some distractions if they wish to ensure the safety of a child—just like they must give up harmful distractions to ensure the safety of themselves, their passengers, and others.
Prevent Deaths Caused by Distraction
Car-related hyperthermia fatalities are devastating and entirely preventable. Making changes to ensure your presence of mind as you drive and go about your day is crucial in protecting the lives of your children. Likewise, those who are behind the wheel should always be mentally present and aware. Even if they aren’t holding a smartphone, they could be distracted by a hands-free device, talking to a passenger, or any other number of distractions. The more we try to become multitaskers as a culture, the more it becomes obvious that multitasking can be extremely dangerous—especially when behind the wheel.