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Protecting Children Because They Cannot Be Seen

New Orleans Moms Blog

On February 15, 2018, a 7-year-old boy, Bryant Sun, was run over and killed in a Covington parking lot. Bryant was sitting in the parking lot behind a car when the driver of a truck ran over him because he was unable to see the boy. A family’s lives are forever devastated and tragically, this is not an isolated case.

Every year, thousands of children are hurt or killed because a driver moving forward very slowly didn’t see them. EVERY WEEK in the U.S., at least 50 children are backed overbecause they cannot be seen. These incidents, for the most part, take place in residential driveways or parking lots and are referred to as a ‘frontover’ or ‘backover’ based on the direction the vehicle was traveling when someone is struck.

There is nothing worse in this world than the death of a child. However, what makes these types of tragedies even more unthinkable is that over 70% of the time, a parent or direct relative is the driver behind the wheel.

Read more at:

NHTSA falling behind on auto regulations, lawmakers say

February 14, 2018 @ 3:13 pm 

Hired drivers let baby ride without car seat

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Babies are the most precious cargo you can carry.

The 41 Action News Investigators wanted to see if ride share and cab drivers would take a baby passenger without a car seat.

Amber Andreasen agreed to meet the 41 Action News Investigators at the Plaza with her 10-month-old son Renly to see what would happen.

The 41 Action News Investigators asked for rides from the Plaza to Johnson County.

The first call was for an Uber.

“We don’t have a car seat, we’ve got a little kid here,” we told the driver.

“Where’s he at? Oh. Don’t worry, I don’t think I’ve had an accident in probably two days,” the Uber driver responded.

While the driver was clearly joking, he was ready to take off with no car seat for Renly.

We stopped the ride before it started.

Uber drivers can cancel a ride on their app, citing a lack of car seat as a reason.

“I mean, did I say something wrong? I was just kidding,” the Uber driver said as we left his vehicle.

But the risk for a child like Renly without a car seat is no joke.

Federal crash test video shows a small child or infant flying forward out of the arms of a parent and in great danger.

“You never put a child in the car unless they’re properly restrained,” Andreasen said.

She said she belongs to the national organization

The nonprofit’s mission is stated to be to keep children safe in and around vehicles and to encourage people to follow the law.

The next ride we tried was with Lyft.

“We don’t have a car seat. Is that going to be a problem?” we asked the Lyft driver.

“I don’t think you’re going to leave him. We got to go,” the driver responded.

Again, we stopped the ride.

We tried a third time with Z Trip.

“We’ve got a 10-month-old here with us, but we don’t have a car seat. Is that a problem?” we asked the Z Trip driver.

“No, no that’s fine,” he said.

For a third time, we stopped the trip, but the driver tried to talk us into taking it.

“I’m a safe driver,” he said.

We made one final attempt to see if a driver would not take us without a car seat for 10-month-old Renly.

This time, we called City Cab.

“We don’t have a car seat. Is that going to be a problem?” we asked the driver.

“No, you can hold him on you. I try my best,” the driver said.

Every one of the four drivers from four different companies was ready to drive half an hour across the metro with 10-month-old Renly in the back without a car seat.

It turns out none of them were breaking the law by picking us up in Missouri without a car seat.

Because under Missouri law, all public carriers for hire don’t have to have child restraints.

But there is no exemption in Kansas.

So, if the drivers had crossed the state line for the Johnson County trips we requested, they’d be breaking the law.

We asked our City Cab driver about it as we left his car.

“I’m Andy with 41 Action News. That’s illegal, did you know that?”

“Well, I mean, that’s fine,” he replied.

“It’s absolutely terrifying. That’s the number one killer of children in our country is vehicles so this is, you know, incredibly important. Something that all parents and all cab companies need to consider,” Andreasen said.

Uber and Lyft both said drivers must follow all relevant state, federal and local laws.

And if parents don’t have the proper safety equipment for their child, drivers should cancel the ride.

Z Trip sent an email stating their driver wasn’t breaking the law by giving us a ride in Missouri without a car seat, but the company didn’t respond when we asked about breaking Kansas law.

A City Cab spokesman said his drivers aren’t supposed to pick up babies without car seats.

When public carriers for hire aren’t involved, Missouri and Kansas have similar laws stating children under a year old and less than 20 pounds need to be in a rear facing, secured car seat.

Both states also require children younger than four to use a car seat.

And both states require children between four and eight to ride in a booster seat unless they weigh more than 80 pounds or are taller than four feet, nine inches tall.

Andreasen said the two states’ laws are the bare minimum.

“In Kansas and Missouri, you don’t have to have your child rear facing until age 2, but that’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends,” she said.

Imagine forgetting a child in a hot car …

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Look at that face, those eyes as blue as robin’s eggs, the baby teeth of her smile, and imagine forgetting her.Listen to her chatter, the way she stretched the word “puppy” – her favorite animal – like it was two words, and imagine forgetting her.

Watch how she always seemed in such a hurry, as if she knew time was short, and imagine forgetting her.

Maliyah Jones dressed as Snow White for Halloween 2016. She died the next July after police say her child care workers forgot her and left her locked in an SUV. (Courtesy of Erika Tafoya)

On a summer day in Portales when temperatures hovered around 91 degrees, imagine forgetting her strapped to her car seat, trapped inside an SUV-turned-oven until it’s too late to remember, too late to save her.

That’s what happened to Maliyah Faith Jones, a 22-month-old girl who died July 25 when authorities say a child-care worker in Portales forgot to remove her and a 1-year-old girl from a black GMC Acadia for more than an hour after returning from an outing at a park.

This is what Maliyah’s mother wants you to remember – that no matter how sure you might be that your child is out of the car, don’t be. Look before you lock.

“I just want people to double check,” said Erika Tafoya, who now lives in Albuquerque. “I know people can get thrown off. People have busy days. It’s just something, it’s, I don’t know, how this could happen? How anybody can forget a child?”

Tafoya will never forget.

Maliyah was her only child, a beautiful baby girl born Sept. 15, 2015. Her name means “beloved,” but Tafoya said all she knows is that it sounded pretty.

Erika Tafoya says she can’t fathom how anybody could leave a child in a hot car, but on July 25 police say a Portales day care worker left Tafoya’s 22-month-old daughter Maliyah Jones and another child in an SUV for more than an hour. Maliyah died. (Courtesy of Erika Tafoya)

Tafoya, who is from Tucumcari, attended school to become a dental assistant, graduating when she was already pregnant with Maliyah. She enrolled in the New Mexico Christian Children’s Home’s single parent program to provide Maliyah with a stable home environment and a faith-based support system.

Maliyah had just turned 1 when mother and daughter moved to Portales, where the program is based.

“It was just me and my daughter,” Tafoya, 23, said. “I have an aunt and my cousin there, but it mostly was just me and her.”

Her cousin knew Sandi Taylor, who ran Taylor Tots childcare center from her home along with her mother, Mary Taylor. That, Tafoya said, gave her some confidence that the Taylors would take good care of her child while she was at work.

Until that day in July, they apparently had.

An assortment of puppies and flowers adorn the grave in Tucumcari where Maliyah Jones, 22 months, is buried. (Courtesy of Erika Tafoya)

That day, the Taylors transported 12 kids to a park for lunch and back to the child-care center. Sandi Taylor had taken six of the children, including Maliyah and the 1-year-old, in the black Acadia.

According to an affidavit filed by Portales police, Taylor brought four of the children inside the center but “forgot” two of them.

Taylor could not explain why she forgot the children, why she forgot to do a head count, why she hadn’t noticed two were missing even as she put the other 10 children down for a nap.

Only after she returned to the Acadia to run an errand did she remember.

The 1-year-old suffered catastrophic brain damage. Maliyah did not survive.

The temperature in the Acadia was estimated to have reached 135 degrees. Heat stroke can occur at a body temperature of 104 degrees; death can occur at 107 degrees.

The Taylors are each charged with child abuse resulting in death and child abuse resulting in great bodily harm. Each count carries a mandatory sentence of 18 years in prison. Trial for both women has been postponed from March until September.

The license for Taylor Tots has been revoked.

“We’re mourning, too,” a relative of the Taylors told the Eastern New Mexico News. “It’s just a horrible accident and I don’t know where we go from here.”

Tafoya does.

After Maliyah’s death, she moved away from Portales, unable to bear remaining in the apartment they shared.

She handed out wristbands with the words “Look Before You Lock,” created a Facebook page called Justice for Maliyah, scattered stones painted and decorated and bearing the hashtag #justiceformaliyah that directs those who find the stones to the Facebook page.

She tells people about the dangers of leaving a child in a car, even for a moment – how an average of 37 children die each year in hot cars, according to the safety organization Kids and Cars.

How in 2017, 42 children across the country died, including one in New Mexico – Maliyah.

How the temperature in a car can climb 20 degrees in 10 minutes, even when the car is in shade, windows down, outside temperatures as low as 57 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.

She tells people about Maliyah, the little girl with the big blue eyes who learned to walk and talk earlier than most children.

“She picked up everything so fast,” Tafoya said. “My grandma tells me Maliyah did everything so quick because she knew she wasn’t going to be here long.”

She hopes you can’t imagine forgetting her now.

UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Joline at 823-3603, or follow her on Twitter @jolinegkg. Go to to submit a letter to the editor.

Mother of child who died in a hot car advocates for child safety

IT WAS supposed to be a fun, family outing with visiting relatives. But a simple change in routine changed Dawn Peabody’s life.

Vanessa Brown, January 19, 2018

IT WAS the warm October day Dawn Peabody will never forget.

Her in-laws were visiting their home in Phoenix, Arizona. To celebrate the family coming together, Dawn and her husband Wes decided to take everybody out for breakfast on the Saturday morning.

Instead of cramming into a single car, Dawn and Wes, along with their four young children, split up in to three separate vehicles.

Normally on a Saturday morning, Dawn’s youngest child Maya would go to work with her while her husband stayed at home with their other children. But on this occasion following the outing, Maya went home in the car with Wes so she could spend time with her visiting grandparents.

It was that change in routine that changed Wes and Dawn’s life forever.

Maya was accidentally left a car in 2008, and died from heat stroke.

Maya was accidentally left a car in 2008, and died from heat stroke.Source:Supplied

“After leaving the restaurant, Wes went to the gas station before going home,” Mrs Peabody told

“But when he got home he did what he normally would have done and jumped out of his car, ran inside and played with the kids.

“About two hours later someone asked ‘Where is Maya?’ He said ‘oh, sleeping with Grandma?’ But she wasn’t.

“He ran to the car and realised he’d forgotten her … but she was gone when he found her. She’d died from heat stroke”

Local authorities have again warned of the dangers of children being left in cars after a

NSW police were forced to smash the window of a locked car to rescue a toddler left alone in a car for three hours.

The child’s father, Richard Ligault, said he was doing a school drop off after a “rough night” where the family hadn’t slept.

“He fell asleep in the car and I thought he was at school and I went straight to work. I was very confused,” he told reporters yesterday.

The NRMA says it has attended 581 incidents where children were locked in cars and 437 involving pets in NSW and the ACT alone, since October.

Last year 3,767 kids and pets were rescued with the majority of cases being unintentional.

Mrs Peabody, who will mark what would’ve been Maya’s 12th birthday later this month, said a simple change in routine is what killed their daughter.

“We always say muscles have memories,” she said.

“My husband did what he normally would do on a Saturday … thinking Maya was safe at work with me.

“When he found her, he drove straight to emergency.”

Mrs Peabody said it was there in the hospital in the minutes after Maya passed away that she could either blame — or forgive — her husband.

“He blamed himself,” she said.

“There was a point a few months after Maya died and I thought he was going to take his own life.

“But before they even stopped working on her, I had to forgive my husband for this accident, or I would destroy my family.

“Blame is something I could of easily done, but I chose forgiveness.”

Maya with her older brother, Hunter.

Maya with her older brother, Hunter.Source:Supplied

Mrs Peabody said the year following Maya’s death was a blur, and it wasn’t until 18 months later that she realised her baby was gone.

“In the first year, I really knew I had to keep family together … so I ran through just holding my breath,” she said.

“Because the kids had lost a sister … so we worked on grief. In the second year, that’s when you know it’s real and that was really hard for me. I knew she wasn’t coming home.”

Since Maya’s death, Mrs Peabody and her husband have been advocates for raising awareness about ‘baby brain’ in an attempt to save the life of another child.

Dawn with her daughter, Maya, who died from heat stroke after being accidentally left in a car.

Dawn with her daughter, Maya, who died from heat stroke after being accidentally left in a car.Source:Supplied

Founder of Kids and Cars Janette Fennell, a US organisation that helps to raise awareness about the dangers surrounding children and vehicles, said the worst mistake any parent can make is to “think that this could never happen to them or to their family”.

“That is the biggest mistake because if you really feel that way you won’t put the safety tips and place that can assure it won’t happen to you or your family.”

A first-time CES entrepreneur, age 82

Chris Ip

On the first official morning of CES, Carol Staninger stopped and started her motorized wheelchair through the cavernous Sands Expo and Convention Center, trying — sometimes failing — not to clip the herd of eager attendees who overlooked the octogenarian at chest height.

A service elevator took Staninger, with gray hair, a pale-yellow jumper and silver brooch, to the show floor. She politely received a flyer from an over-perfumed woman representing a French shoe company. She consulted her flip phone to find the rest of the team. And eventually, Staninger arrived at her booth in the trade show’s startup section, opposite an electric-skateboard showcase and a Korean company selling iPhone cases with embedded stun guns.

“I have arrived,” she said to her team.

More than 170,000 people from 150 countries are at this year’s CES, but it’s rare to see an 82-year-old startup entrepreneur. For Staninger, president of Ancer LLC — a blend of her name and her two children’s, Andrea and Eric — it’s her first CES. The last time she even passed through Las Vegas was the other side of the year 2000.

Raised in Winter Haven, Florida, she started working for a local hospital at age 19 and remained there for 42 years, mostly as a secretary. Her first brush with technology was in the 1960s, when she was introduced to an IBM electric typewriter. “I embraced technology, word processors and computers,” she said. “It just made things better.”

In the summer of 2016, well into her retirement, she read news reports of infants who died after being accidentally left in hot cars. Often left in safety seats that face backward in a momentary lapse of caregiver concentration, there were 42 such deaths last year in the US and 742 since 1998; the majority are children 12 months or younger.

“You see a little child, and you know this child will never grow up,” she said. “He’ll never walk on the beach, never have children, never grow up. His life is over before it began.”

Staninger began conceptualizing a monitor for children left in a back seat, shopping it first to the Florida Polytechnic Institute then to Charles Ferrer, president and CEO of Florida manufacturer CMS WorldGroup.

Called Save Our Loved Ones, its prototype is a motion monitor slightly smaller than a home fire alarm attached to the inside of a car’s roof. It links to a keychain fob. When the fob is 15 feet or more from the car, the sensor looks for movement and sets off an alarm if it detects even a slight chest expansion of 1 mm. Under a collaboration between Ancer and CMS Worldgroup, Staninger and Ferrer aim to release the product by fall 2018. They expect it to retail at $300, with the hope that it becomes integrated into car manufacturing in the future.

In the meantime, she’s thinking of new safety-oriented businesses too: for instance, a sensor for heavy mowers to sense depressions in thick vegetation and stop crashes. “One idea leads to another,” she said.

In her five days at CES, she and Ferrer are aiming to license or sell the Save Our Loved Ones — particularly given Staninger’s age and her investment of $170,000 in the project so far. “We’re focusing primarily on the larger communications companies, larger device manufacturers, to gauge their interest,” said Ferrer.

“I’ll go anywhere, speak with anyone,” Staninger said. “I’m just going to experience whatever happens.”

CES 2018: New sensor technology could prevent ‘hot car’ infant deaths

The theme of passenger-aware vehicles is taking the Consumer Electronics Show, underway this week in Las Vegas, by storm.

As technology evolves to have the passenger and the car totally in sync, one Israeli company has developed a sensor that can detect even the slightest movement from a human or object anywhere in the vehicle.

This could be a major step in offering solutions to the heartbreaking problem of hot car infant fatalities. Last year alone, there were 42 deaths of children who were left in hot vehicles. Such a sensor could prevent these tragedies.

Hot Car 2

Data monitors display presence and depth sensors of any movement in test vehicle using a baby doll  (Fox News)

“Guardian Optical Technologies’ sensor provides all the necessary information regarding the occupants, the number of occupants, where do they sit, what is their physical size, and what is their posture even,” says Gil Dotan, CEO and creator of the sensor.

Dotan and his team want the sensor in cars by 2020 and he says that is ambitious, but there are so many future applications for the data the sensor collects, including triggering the start of the air conditioning, initiating alarms to sound, or alerting help with a call being sent out to family members.

“If this is indeed a dangerous scenario, you can prevent the driver from locking the vehicle, start the horn, you can call the police or call a caregiver…the car can do that autonomously,” says Dotan. He added, “It’s a tragic scenario and no one really wants to be in that position.”

The technology can detect motion down to the one-micrometer scale. Dotan says that is one meter divided into a million small parts and it can pick up a heartbeat of say, a baby or respirations of an adult.

The sensor would be placed in the middle of the cabin of the car. For the demonstration, Dotan and his team used a baby doll with actuators that mimic movements of a beating heart to showcase how the sensor can indicate there is a presence inside the vehicle.

Dotan notes that previously many car companies were solely preoccupied with preventing car crashes and collisions, but that they are partnering with some in the auto industry to help tackle this problem.

“On average, in the U.S., there are 38 (yearly) fatalities from heat stroke originated from forgotten infants in cars. In terms of car crashes and fatalities, you have roughly 35,000 cases each year,” says Dotan.

That’s a three-degree of magnitude difference, but he noted that any incremental impact to be safer is welcomed.

Andrew Craft is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in Las Vegas, Nevada . announces alliance with Animal Care Organizations to save lives and attends Pet Night on Capitol Hill

imagejpeg_0 copy imagejpeg_2-2 JDS & Ellie_n is joining forces with a coalition of animal care organizations in support of the HOT CARS Act of 2017 (see below). This new collaboration will help prevent hot car tragedies involving children, animals, and other vulnerable members of our society.


As part of Pet Night on Capitol Hill, President Janette Fennell and VP Sue Auriemma attended the event along with representatives from the organizations who are a part of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Coalition (PIJAC).  U.S House Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Tim Ryan (OH) were also there to highlight their sponsorship of the HOT CARS Act.  As original cosponsors, the Congress people underscored that the technology called for in the HOT CARS Act protecting children from being left alone in a hot car can also protect pets.  Rep. Schakowsky’s sweet dog, Ellie, won the “Cutest Pet” award and we totally agree!


Every year, children, the disabled, elderly and animals perish from heatstroke inside motor vehicles. Much like children, dogs lack the ability to effectively regulate their body temperatures, which makes them extremely vulnerable to heatstroke. This is especially the case in cars, where the greenhouse effect can cause the interior temperature to quickly rise to deadly levels.


“Our coalition came together as a result of pet care professionals’ concern for the health of animals that are found trapped in hot cars,” said the PIJAC Mike Bober, a spokesperson for the coalition. “As Congress joins many states and localities in protecting children from the potentially deadly consequences of hot cars, coalition members wanted to ensure that pets are not forgotten.”


The organizations that make up the coalition include the American Animal Hospital Association, American Pet Products Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, Center for Pet Safety, Human Animal Bond Research Institute, National Animal Interests Alliance, Petco, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, Pet Leadership Council, Pet Partners, and World Pet Association.

The 5 worst car seat mistakes parents are making

 November 2 at 6:00 AM
After the other driver ran a red light and plowed into her minivan, Christine Miller of Santa Clarita, Calif., looked in the back seat for her son Kyle, but he had been thrown from the vehicle and was gone forever.“If the scars on my heart were visible, people would gasp every time they saw me,” says Miller. Three-year-old Kyle was sitting in a legal booster seat and strapped in by a seat belt at the time of the collision.

“Had I just known about the dangers of booster seats for toddlers, had somebody warned me, I would have kept him in a five-point harness car seat,” says Miller. “That’s the dagger that twists in my heart.”

She’s not alone. Car accidents are the No. 1 killer of children ages 0 to 19 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionSafe Kids Worldwide says car seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent, but they have to be installed and used correctly. More than half of them aren’t.

“We find parents often make several mistakes at the same time,” says Lorrie Walker, training manager for the Safe Kids Buckle Up program. “Taking just a few minutes to make sure your car seat is installed and used correctly could be the first step to saving a life.”

Here are the top mistakes parents make, and how to avoid them and keep your child safer while on the road.

Mistake 1: ‘Promoting’ your child too soon

We parents seem to want to keep our kids young — except when it comes to their car seats. That’s misguided. In addition to delaying things such as violent video games and makeup, we should delay kids’ progression through the stages of car seats. They should stay in each position and seat as long as they safely can. Each step up is actually a bit more dangerous because it offers less protection for growing bodies.

• Rear-facing seat: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 2 years old or reach the weight and height limits set by the seat manufacturer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agrees.

Research has shown that rear-facing seats distribute the force of a crash over a large area of a baby or toddler’s body, keeping them safer. Look for an infant seat with higher height and weight limits so you can keep your child in it longer. Better yet, Consumer Reports says transitioning to a convertible seat, but keeping it rear-facing, has additional head-protection benefits.

• Forward-facing seat with five-point harness: These seats also attach to your vehicle. NHTSA says to keep your child in this type of seat “until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.” The challenge is that those limits vary widely — from about 48 to 58 inches in height and 50 to 90 pounds in weight. In fact, if you look at NHTSA’s car seat finder tool, you have a choice of either a 5-point harness seat or a booster seat for two entire years, between ages 4 and 6. This is the problem Miller ran into. Her son Kyle was heavy enough to age out of the forward-facing seat they owned, so they moved him to a booster. A five-point harness seat might have saved him.

Manufacturers now offer larger five-point harness seats that accommodate older kids. And if your child resists, point out that NASCAR drivers also use five-point harnesses.

• Booster seat: You shouldn’t skip this step. Booster seats are designed to raise children to a height where they can safely wear the vehicle’s built-in seat belt. Consumer Reports says high-backed boosters are safer than backless ones because they do a better job of properly positioning the seat belt across the child’s chest, hips and thighs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says booster seats can reduce a child’s risk of serious injury by 45 percent.

Mistake 2: Obeying state law instead of federal recommendations

State laws are made by politicians who aren’t crash engineers and are often behind the curve on current safety standards. Think of your state law as the minimum you should do — not the maximum. Go by the federal recommendations from the experts at NHTSA or the Academy of Pediatrics instead.

Seat belt only: Most states require your child to ride in a booster seat only until age 8. But according to Janette Fennell, founder and president of the safety group KidsAndCars, moving a child from a booster seat to just a seat belt is “the most significant safety demotion.” So use this five-point test to determine whether your child is ready to use just the seat belt:

1. Their back is flat against the seat back.

2. Knees bend over the edge of the seat and feet are flat on the floor.

3. The shoulder belt sits on their shoulder and chest (not face or neck.)

4. The lap belt sits low on their hips and touches their upper thighs (not on their stomach.)

5. Your child can sit comfortably this way for the entire trip.

Front seat: Most state laws don’t specify that children should sit in the back seat, but the AAP says children should stay in the back seat until their 13th birthday. Many children were killed by air bags before parents were advised to have their children sit in the back, because the child was too small to absorb the force of the inflating air bag, according to NHTSA.

Mistake 3: Not reading the manuals

Yes, that’s manuals — plural. You need to read both the car seat manual and your car’s manual. It may sound like a hassle to absorb every page, but it’s crucial. Safe Kids did a study that showed 64 percent of parents aren’t using the top tether that keeps a car seat from pitching forward. Failure to use it can result in serious head injuries. The seat manual will tell you where to find the top tether, and your car’s manual will tell you where to attach it.

Mistake 4: Passing up free help

Installing a car seat correctly is not easy. Certified experts train for as much as 40 hours, so seek out those pros and get their help. It’s usually free. Both NHTSA and Safe Kids provide lists of local car seat checkups, where experts can spot the critical mistakes that get kids killed, like if your car seat or its straps are too loose, or if your straps or chest clip are positioned at the wrong height.

Mistake 5: Not considering the seat’s history

Safety advocates suggest not accepting a hand-me-down car seat, because you don’t know whether it’s been through an accident and it may not incorporate the latest technology. Some suggest you avoid rental car company car seats for the same reasons. If your car seat is in an accident, replace it. Car insurance often covers the cost. Finally, car seats have expiration dates. Make sure to buy a new one that isn’t near the expiration date, and get rid of old ones that are past it.

Forgetting a Child in a Back Seat Can Kill. Cars May Soon Warn You.

At least 41 children have died of heatstroke this year after being left in the back seat of a parked vehicle. Since 1990, when the annual number of vehicular heatstroke victims was first recorded, more than 800 children have died in hot parked cars.

Many of these deaths occurred because parents forgot that the children were in the car. And while automakers offer technology that steers a vehicle or alerts drivers to a car in the next lane, they have not released technology to tell drivers when they are forgetting a child in the back seat.

But congressional lawmakers are now weighing whether to require new cars to include a device for detecting children in the back seat and warning the driver of their presence after the car has been turned off. The requirements were attached to a House bill, passed last month, that is meant to speed the development of self-driving vehicles. The Senate version of the bill, which cleared a committee vote this month, includes an amendment with the warning requirement.

While some automakers, like Hyundai, General Motors and Nissan, have voluntarily developed some types of warning systems, the auto industry has been reluctant to add the technology required by the bills. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the leading auto industry trade group, has said it opposes the proposed rules.

After the proposed rules were released in July, the group said: “In particular, we are concerned about proposals where it takes many years before results are seen, because 18 lives have already been lost this year in hot cars. And the proposed mandate for notification technology in cars misses the targeted population, because so few parents of young children buy new cars.”


This is not the first time that the Auto Alliance has dismissed the need for regulation. In 2011, for example, Robert Strassburger, vice president for vehicle safety at the organization, made a similar argument. “We shouldn’t overemphasize the effectiveness of technology,” he said, adding that a government requirement for warning devices would initially have minimal impact, because the vast majority of cars on the road are years old.

The Auto Alliance, like some other industry groups, calls for education rather than technology. For 10 years, it has pushed messages, both online and in print, that describe why cars overheat when parked in the sun and that advise parents never to leave children in a car.

But advocates for stronger rules say the years of educational efforts have not slowed the number of deaths. And in almost all cases, they say, the action is a matter of distraction and simple forgetfulness.

“You can’t teach people not to forget,” said Janette Fennell, president of, an organization dedicated to protecting children in and around motor vehicles. “There is a scientific reason why this is happening. It’s not that people don’t love their kids.”

David Diamond, a neuroscientist at the University of South Florida who has studied the issue, said a child in the back seat could easily be forgotten. Habit memory can take over during the drive home from work, causing a person to forget to stop on the way for an important prescription. Police officers, he said, have forgotten their guns after laying them down on the toilet paper roll in public bathrooms, so it should not be surprising that parents forget their child in the back seat.

“The brain process is the same,” Dr. Diamond said. “All involve an interaction between our habit and conscious memory systems.”

General Motors and Nissan have introduced technologies that remind the driver that a child is in the back seat by analyzing door sequencing. If the rear door is opened before the car is started but not after it is turned off, a warning sounds. The GM reminder is standard or available on numerous 2017 models and will be offered on others for the 2018 model year. The Nissan system is standard on the 2018 Pathfinder and will be on other models in the future.

This technology does not meet the standard of the legislation, however, because it does not detect the presence of a child. Hyundai’s technology, which is scheduled for release on some 2019 models, can detect someone in the back seat.

Some companies that sell equipment to the auto industry have developed warning devices. One such system, the VitaSense, uses low-power radio to sense movement and breathing. The technology, developed in Luxembourg by IEE, a manufacturer of automotive sensors, can reportedly detect even a sleeping infant in a rear-facing child seat. If a child is detected after the vehicle has been turned off, it alerts the driver by several means, including flashing lights, beeps, and messages sent to cellphones and computers.

Ms. Fennell applauded independent efforts to produce a warning device, but argued that the only real solution was legislation that required the technology in all new vehicles.

When she got an alert from her car that she had left her gas tank open, Ms. Fennell said, “I realized that while my car can tell me that, it can’t tell me if a child has been left in the back seat.”

“We get buzzers and warnings for everything,” she said. “How in the world do you not develop a reminder for what is indisputably the most important thing?”