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Warning devices may not detect children in hot vehicles

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2012 | Product Liability

According to federal data, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-accident motor vehicle deaths among children younger than 14. In 2011, more than 30 children died of heatstroke after being left in a vehicle, and 2010 saw nearly 50 such deaths.

The majority of these tragic deaths are not intentional, but accidental, caused by a parent who is unaware or forgets that his or her child is in the backseat before getting out of the car, or by children who gain access to a vehicle without the knowledge of a parent or caregiver. As such, there are several products and devices on the market today aimed at alerting parents when there is a child at risk in their vehicle. Unfortunately, a new study seems to prove that these products are largely ineffective, and further, that they may actually increase the number of heatstroke-related fatalities by giving parents a false sense of security.

On the whole, researchers say that the products had many similar technological limitations, including potential disarming of the devices by ill-positioned children, inconsistencies in arming sensitivity, malfunctions due to spilled liquids or similar accidents and interference with device notification signals from other electronic devices. The products also fail to offer any sort of protection for the significant percentage of heatstroke deaths caused by children who get into a hot car without an adult’s knowledge.

If your child has been injured as a result of a faulty heat warning device or other defective product, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: NHTSA, “New Research Says Current Warning Systems Designed to Detect Children Left in Vehicles Are Not Reliable,” July 30, 2012

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