Child injury in Homestead and other communities is often linked to cars. Not only are car accidents one of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities for young children, but cars themselves pose a risk to children – even if the cars are not moving. Each summer, for example, there have been instances of children dying of heat stroke and hyperthermia after inadvertently being left alone in a hot car.
There are a number of safety devices that can be used to help combat the problem, according to experts:
- Motion and heat sensors. These sensors can be installed in a car seat and sense movement or heat, alerting parents when their child is left behind in the car. There are now many brands and models of the devices.
- Smart car seats. Last year, a company called TOMY International released what they called a “smart car seat,” which features motion, temperature, and angle sensors. The device can send an alert to a caregiver’s smart phone if the seat gets too warm, if the seat belt is unbuckled while the car is moving, and if the seat is installed incorrectly.
- Proximity sensors. These devices have two parts: one stays with the caregiver and one with the child in their car seat. When the caregiver walks too far away (after the child is left behind in the car, for example), the alarm sounds.
- GPS systems. GPS systems have been designed especially for children, to let parents know where their child is at all times. Some of these have a one-button touch pad that lets older children call a caregiver if they are in trouble.
While these devices are promising, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has warned that relying on these devices alone can still lead to fatalities and injury for a few reasons:
- These devices are not always reliable. According to studies conducted by the NHTSA, these devices do not work correctly each time. Some are affected by liquids, the presence of cell phones, or other issues. Some simply fail to work correctly in each situation. Early customer reviews for some of the devices also show that customers found that the devices did not work in each instance.
- In many cases, child deaths from hot cars are due to a break in routine. One of the big problems with many of the devices is that they require parents to do something consistently. For example, with the proximity sensors, parents need to make sure that they or their caregiver have the other half of the device each time. If a break in routine means a different caregiver, the device will not do much good if a parent does not remember to hand over the fob of the device to the new caregiver.
- Many of the devices rely on the child to be in a car seat. However, the NHTSA reports that in 47% of cases each year where a child dies in a hot car, the children were not in a car seat.
NHTSA launched its “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” campaign three years ago and states that while the devices may prevent some deaths, parents need to have several layers of protection and change attitudes and behaviors above all to prevent these types of tragedies.
Contact Flaxman Law Group if you have questions about your legal situation or would like legal representation in a personal injury claim.