Hot car deaths rising, technology providing ways to prevent them

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- A 1-year-old has died after being left inside a hot Jeep for most of the day on Monday.

It seems like it’s happening more and more.

Just this summer, Jacksonville mother has been arrested after the OnStar system in her car alerted authorities to her 1-year-old daughter trapped inside a car, in the sweltering Florida heat.

The in-car vehicle assistance system was able to alert authorities to the toddler making noises while the car was off, but many people are left wondering how so many children are being forgotten in cars.

Authorities began keeping records of hot car deaths in 1998, according to NoHeatStroke.org. It was a time before cell phones were popular, before Bluetooth systems and many other forms of technology that distract drivers today.

Although it may feel impossible to forget your child in the car, science says it can happen to anyone, especially people with young, nonverbal, rear-facing babies.

And according to the National Safety Council, busy parents may be experiencing a mental overload. 

“Brains can juggle tasks very rapidly, which leads us to mistakenly believe we are doing two tasks at the same time. In reality, the brain is switching attention between tasks – performing only one task at a time,” a NSC report says. “When people try to do two thinking tasks at the same time, the brain shifts its focus and drivers develop ‘inattention blindness.’ When this happens, important information falls out of view and is not processed by the brain. Because this is a process people are not aware of, it makes it difficult for people to realize they are mentally taking on too much.”

Since then 1998, more than 800 children have died being left in hot cars. 

Kids and hot car deaths

So far in 2019 there have been 11 hot car deaths, four have been in Florida. Hover over the bar to see the exact number.

 

Source: Kids and Cars

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are more susceptible to the dangers of a rapid increase in temperature because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults’ bodies. 

The good news, however, is that new technology is being developed to keep children from being left in the car, and in turn, dying of hyperthermia.

From a free app to high tech sensors, the products to remind and alert people of a child in the car. Some apps are free, but other versions of this technology can cost up to $100.

Both can help prevent a tragedy.

Technology to prevent vehicular hyperthermia

Sensorsafe is a technology found in some Evenflo car seats. There is a socket located inside a vehicle that accesses various vehicle subsystems where small receivers, like the one attached to this product can be installed to tap into a car’s computer system. The receiver communicates with the car seat’s smart chest clip – letting the driver know whether a child is still in the seat after the car is turned off.
Driver’s Little Helper Sensor System is a sensor system sold at major retailers that can be put in a car seat. The sensor goes under the car seat padding and is attached to a battery pack and synced with an app. Users can set when they want the app to send you notifications after the car is stopped.

The Waze traffic app has a setting that will remind a driver to check his or her back seat when a destination entered into the app is reached. While it won’t alert a driver during an impromptu stop. As Faris pulled into the driveway for her Waze destination, she received an alert before she turned off the car: “Check your car before you leave.”

Sense a Life is a device made from two Tampa fathers, developed to use wireless technology to relay information from a small pad that goes under a car seat to the user’s phone. The seat pad activates when the child is in the car seat and when the driver leaves the vehicle and a child is still in the seat it sends a message to the user’s phone.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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