Where Is the Technology to Prevent Hot Car Deaths?

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Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It’s been hard to miss it in the news lately: a rash of deaths involving young children — many of them babies — left or forgotten in the car by parents or caregivers. These stories are heartbreaking, and stick deep within the psyche of many people. The truth is, it could really happen to anyone. How many times have you left something in the car, or even in your house, and had to go back to get it? Sure, it would be difficult to forget a child — an actual living, breathing human being — but it can happen. The results can be disastrous, as we’ve seen several times over the past few months alone.

The death of a child, especially through negligence or accidents at the hands of their parents, always draws the ire of the general public. In the case of hot car deaths, it provides an incredibly tricky situation. While the parents are certainly liable for what happens when they leave or forget their children in the car, it truly is something that anyone could do, whether they mean to or not. People make mistakes, and unless there is some sort of ulterior motive found (in which case we’re looking at murder or homicide charges), no one can really make these people feel any worse than they probably already do.

Now, we live in a world in which vehicle technology is progressing at an extremely rapid rate. On-board computers can tell us where to go, tailor entertainment choices to our personal tastes, and even play movies or television shows for passengers. There are devices that can help you parallel park, cameras for backing up, and even 3D top-down camera views to assist drivers in navigating even the trickiest of tight spaces.

So why isn’t there technology to help prevent children or pets from dying inside of a hot car? According to an article from Time, 670 children have died over the past two decades from heatstroke while inside of hot vehicles. Eighteen have died this year alone. It’s also pointed out that there are campaigns underway to bring awareness to the issue, and even some technologies that exist meant to stop these deaths from happening. The problem is that they are not entirely reliable.

In a world in which there’s conceivably a mobile phone app for everything, in which the Internet has made its way to everyday devices like refrigerators, and where we are able to track where our Domino’s Pizza order is in the production process, how is it that we can’t figure out a way to keep children and animals from dying in vehicles?

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