Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cooking Kids in Hot Cars

Car interiors are replete with gadgets that let us know when we have failed to fasten our seat belt, left our headlights on, failed to secure our gas cap, have something less than 25 lbs. in a front seat and automatically adjust the AC. The one thing where the engineers have shown a failure to detail is in protecting kids and animals left in overheated cars. To be sure, the issue has not been really overlooked because it has been reported that cracking the window may make you feel you've provided adequate protection, but you have done nothing but crack a window open. There is no safety measure here and it shouldn't make anyone feel they've done their duty to protect.

One child dying alone in an overhead car is one death too many, yet one group has estimated that an average of 38 children die this way each year. The details don't need to be mentioned here because we've all heard them from TV reports or in media on line or in newspapers. They outline a gruesome downward spiral resulting in a horrible death and it should move all of us to throw off our protective cloak of inaction and demand more from everyone involved in the care of children; the car makers are the first to come to mind.

Engineers are feverishly designing away to keep us super connected so that we dare not miss a call, a text or a turn in the road. We have voice activation for all manner of do-dads, but there is nothing, nothing that warns us that a child has been forgotten in the car. I am writing, of course, about those instances where too much multi-tasking has us running from pillar to post trying to get everything done and forgetting the most precious, the most important task--the safety of a child.

Of course, there are cases where a parent, caregiver or employee has slipped out of the car or bus "for just a few minutes" to make a quick purchase and left the child. My attention isn't on them. They need to begin to devise plans to prevent this from happening. A few minutes may be a few minutes too many and tragedy is the result with lifelong guilt always there as each persons asks themselves, "Why?"

Ten years ago, General Motors decided their plan to save kids in cars was unreliable. Was it the purported heart monitor or some other biological measure? Doesn't sound like a good plan to me. The kid shouldn't be in the car alone and measuring heart rate, to me, is a Mickey Mouse approach that kicks in when the temperature may have already had its effect.

Ford is exploring cameras in the car but they haven't made whatever breakthrough they felt they needed to make it a viable option. Where are the other car manufacturers in this and why isn't there a car manufacturers' and kids car seat work group developing one technology that all of them could use? Do they want a government subsidy for this? They are in the business of producing safe cars and that means safe for everyone in that car.

Too often it takes the truly disturbing death of a toddler left to have the life baked out of him in an overheated hot car before sufficient outrage and ire are mounted to "do something." We cry "enough!" to too many things. Why hasn't the outcry about kids in cars been heard sooner?

How did we permit our minds to be distracted by the useless technology that allows us to have driverless cars and ones, none the less, that don't protect kids? Okay, Silicon Valley, looks like your turn here. If you're going to change just about everything, as this article pointed out, how will you address this problem?

Whether you spent $20K or $1M for a car, all of them should have a fail-safe system to keep kids and our pets alive should we leave them in the car in the summer heat. Is style more important than safety? Is the roar of the engine that denotes the ultra-luxury cars what is important? Can a kid die in a Bentley just as certainly as they can in a Chevy?

Are you angry and disgusted by the prospect of another kid cooking to death in a car that heated to over 120 degrees? What will you do? Yes, you do have a voice if you choose to use it. If you don't, how will you sleep tonight because every failure to act is a failure and there's no other way to view it.