Infants or young children left inside a vehicle can die or hyperthermia in a few hours, even when the temperature outside is not especially hot. This is a tragedy that kills about 30 children a year.
Many times, this is a result of forgetfulness rather than neglect, when otherwise responsible parents become distracted and inadvertently leave a child in the car. Now that children ride in the back seat, it is easier to forget that they are there.
Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, a safety advocacy group based in Leawood, Kan., that focuses on issues involving children and automobiles, says that carmakers must develop reminder devices to warn drivers if a child is left behind. The organization campaigned for such a requirement to be written into the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2008, but it was not.
As a result, Kids and Cars is proposing that a requirement for safety belt latching reminders for all seating positions be attached to the next Transportation Department reauthorization bill. The proposed regulation would also mandate a child-left behind warning.
Automakers said they have conducted research into warning systems, but none provided specifics. A solution to this tragic issue is in the works, but still seems to be a way off.