Backseat Tragedies: Hot Car Deaths
Now available on Amazon!
It’s a topic no one wants to talk about. No parent ever thinks they could be capable of forgetting his or her own child in a hot car, but the sad truth is it happens dozens of times every year in the U.S. And those are just the fatal cases. There are many more unreported “close calls” each year. Experts believe the number of hot car deaths began to skyrocket in the 1990s, when states began requiring children to be placed in the backseats of vehicles (to avoid airbag deployment accidents) and car manufacturers began promoting rear-facing car seats for infants. While this is widely believed to be the safest place in a vehicle for an infant, it also puts the child in a vulnerable position–out of sight to the driver.
RJ and I wrote this book to get to the root of this problem. Why is this happening all over the country? What happens in a person’s brain to allow them to simply forget about their child–not just for a few moments, but for hours? What can we do to prevent more cases from happening? While the book is comprised of tragic true stories about real families, it also gets to the heart of problem and what we can do as a society to help. The first step in reducing these types of deaths, I believe, is to open up a dialogue about this problem. This CAN happen to anyone. Simply dismissing these parents as negligent, horrible people won’t help the situation. If we recognize that we are all human and fatal mistakes can be made, maybe more people will take precautions to ensure their children are always safe. Always place something you will need in your backseat, so you are forced to reach back there before you exit the vehicle. And always “look before you lock,” even when your children are not riding with you.
Researching and writing book was a real eye-opener for me and I think it’s an issue we all need to be educated on. The numbers won’t begin to dwindle until we are all aware of how easily it can happen and start working as a community to promote car safety tips.
When the invisible baby laws went into effect, my kids were already exempt due to their ages but I was truly bothered by the backseat stipulation. The thought of a newborn being completely unattended in a car seat is disturbing. Newborns are especially vulnerable to two specific dangers; choking on spit up material and their weak little necks allowing their heads to drift to the side could lead to suffocation via car seat side cushioning. I always thought leaving tiny ones without an attendant qualified as neglect and should a child be injured or killed during such moments the guardian would face appropriate charges.
In recent years I have driven my grandchildren to and fro under this law that keeps them out of sight and my nervousness factor was through the roof! The tinier ones probably wonder why Grandma keeps one hand in the backseat and fiddles with their feet while she drives with one hand most of the time. I just don’t like driving the little ones with this law that keeps them out of my direct view. So I generally don’t take the babies anywhere in a car. The stroller will never be obsolete!
I will simply end my note with big kudos to you for facing this ugly topic. Obviously, you are almost alone on treatment of this subject and a serious examination of this potentially deadly law. As for the hot car deaths, I guess I just don’t understand how a person driving with a child hidden in the back could forget the conditions that cause me to be so nervous when I am driving tots around. I suppose that is attributable to the fact that I don’t have to drive with kids on a daily basis and as a result, I haven’t become desensitized to the riskiness of it all. I pray that we see no more of this hellish trend for when these reports come out, I tend to visualize myself inside these parking lot ovens and I feel a bit too much empathy for the lost ones. I’ve been known to cry real tears for them.
So, that’s it. Good fortune to you for future projects and I will keep an eye out for your works. You’ve got a new fan in me although I haven’t read you yet…because the little ones need everyone they can get in their proverbial corner. You go, Girl!
Thank you for this comment, Cheri! I completely agree with everything you are saying. No one ever wants to think they will be the one to forget their child in the car, but the reality of it is that it happens far too often. Irregular routines, busy schedules, and the car seat laws have all contributed to this. I’m so happy you are such an attentive grandmother to your little ones. Wishing you all the best and thanks again for taking the time to leave me a comment! Best wishes! JJ