The vehicle warning systems designed to alert you to the fact that you may have left your child behind in your vehicle may not be as reliable as you think. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that products designed to prevent children from being unintentionally left behind in what will become a hot vehicle, are unreliable.
In non-crash, vehicle-related deaths, heatstroke is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 14. Last year, 33 children died of heatstroke. The NHTSA requested that that hospital evaluate products connected to child restraints, which were designed to alert drivers to a child left in a parked vehicle.
The study’s results showed that a number of factors interfere with the effectiveness of the devices, including electronic signals from other devices, differences in the warning signal distance, malfunction due to spilled liquids, and child positioning variables, which disarm the device. Additionally, many of the devices were complicated to set up, monitor and operate.
If you or someone you know uses one of these devices, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions and frequently check that the device is functioning properly.