Highway Patrol Reminds Motorists of Dangers of Leaving Children in Vehicles

By Staff

With summer temperatures rising into the upper 90 degree mark this week, the North Carolina State Highway is reminding motorists of the dangers when a child is left unattended in a vehicle.

Every year, 35 to 40 children across the country die from heat exposure in vehicles and July is historically the deadliest month for child fatalities. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise to almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes and a child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. Even a few minutes of heat exposure can be dangerous for a child. Sadly, many of these deaths are due to a parent accidentally forgetting that a child is still seated in their vehicle or the parent intentionally leaves a child in a vehicle unattended and in some cases, children crawl into a vehicle unnoticed.

However, these tragedies can be prevented by simply following a few simple safety tips provided by Safe Kids of NC:

  • Never leave a child alone in a vehicle. Check to make sure all children exit the vehicle when you reach your destination.
  • Lock the doors when your vehicle is parked. Teach children that cars are not places to play.
  • Busy parents have a lot on their minds, so give yourself a reminder. Place your purse, briefcase or other important items in the backseat next to your child’s car seat to help you remember to look in the back before leaving the car.
  • Set a reminder on your cell phone or other mobile device to remind you to drop off children at school or daycare when routines change.
  • Make an agreement with your child’s school or daycare that you will be notified if your child is not dropped off at the normal time.
  • If you see a child or pet left unattended in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.
  • Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing.

North Carolina does not currently have a “Good Samaritan law” to protect individuals who might break into a car to rescue a trapped child or pet. However, there is currently a bill sitting in the senate’s rules and operations committee that would allow someone to break into a car to rescue a trapped child without fear of civil penalty if certain criteria were met (which includes having called law enforcement. Representative Edward Hanes Jr (NC 72) is a primary sponsor of the bill, which can be found here: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/House/PDF/H896v1.pdf

More data on children in hot cars can be found HERE: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/enforce/ChildrenAndCars/pages/Unattend-HotCars.htm

Additional safety information involving children can be found HERE: http://www.ncdoi.com/OSFM/SafeKids/