Italy introduces a law it hopes will reduce hot car deaths

leaving child in car

In Italy, it is now illegal not to have an alarm in your child’s car seat.

These new measures were passed by the transport ministry after a Sicilian father, whose toddler died after inadvertently being left in his car for no less than five hours. This incident resulted in a nationwide campaign.

This measure requires automakers to install devices that emit both audio and visual signals when a child below the age of 4 is left in the car. It would not only alert parents but also passersby.

In the US

With two months still left to complete the year of 2019, it is already the second-worst on record when it concerns the death of children left in cars.

A few automakers have taken steps to address the issue, and an industry alliance says an alert system will be installed on almost all vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2025. However, safety experts contend the proposed technology can fail to work when required.

Attempts to mandate a higher-tech approach have progressed slowly on Capitol Hill. Other governments have been quicker, however, in their response to increasing fatalities in their own countries. Italy has now passed a law that would need all cars to include an alarm to alert parents about children in the back seat, a more efficient technology that safety advocates favor.

Until the end of October, 52 American children died after being left in automobiles, a number second only to the record 54 hot car deaths reported for all of 2018.

“It is unconscionable that we continue to permit this to happen when it could be fixed…with technology that is already available,” stated Amber Rollins, the director of the nonprofit KidsAndCars.org. Rollins informed NBC News she has been advised the expense of effective detection systems would be less than $10 every car in volume production.

While there have been some cases in recent times where parents or caregivers have intentionally left kids in hot vehicles, Rollins stated, “Nine out of 10 times, this is happening to wonderful, well-educated parents. Most of the time it is an unintentional thing.” In the present day’s fast-paced environment it’s easy to indeed forget to stop at daycare and then race off to work. The issue is compounded when a child is riding in back in a rear-facing child seat.

Right now, only a few automakers provide features to help parents remember when they have a child in the vehicle. The door sequencing technology utilized by GM, Nissan, and Subaru is activated when someone opens a back door before the vehicle gets started. When the vehicle is subsequently turned off, it leads to audio and visual alerts telling the driver to check the back seat. But experts state such systems may be overlooked. And, if a driver stops on the way to work, perhaps shutting the vehicle off while getting gas, it won’t sound the alert a second time.

Until now, Hyundai and sibling brand Kia are the only ones presenting a more advanced detection and alert system. It not only suspects when a rear door is opened at the start of a drive but also utilizes an ultrasonic motion sensor mounted in the liner behind the back seat.

A lot more advanced technology using some sort of sensor to check if a child – or even a pet – is locked in an automobile would be mandated under the Hot Cars Act, HR 3593, which is now being considered by the House of Representatives. Less advanced rear door sequencing technology is written into the same Senate bill, SB 1601. It is far from certain that Congress is going to be able to come up with a compromise and pass a bill anytime soon since similar proposals have been pushed for few years.

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