Limitations of Forgotten-Baby Devices
Written by Faith Anderson on July 30, 2012
Device Limitations Put Children at Risk
NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland said, “While these devices are very well intended and we do appreciate the manufacturers and investors, we have found a number of limitations in these devices.” He continued, “We don’t think they can be used as the only countermeasure to make sure that you don’t forget your child behind in a car.” The three forgotten-baby devices in question are the ChildMinder Smart Pad System, the Deluxe Padded Safety Seat Alarm System and SafeBABI.
The NHTSA report said that, in some instances, spilled liquids have caused malfunctions, devices have turned off and on during travel, cellphone use was found to interfere with some device signals, and an improperly positioned child caused sensors to malfunction. “In sum, the devices require considerable effort from the parent/caregiver to ensure smooth operation,” the report said. Arbogast, however, said that the designs of the three devices are conceptually sound. “Speaking with the manufacturers of these technologies, we know that many refinements already are underway,” she said.
Heatstroke Leading Cause of Vehicle-Related Child Deaths
The federal report did not evaluate electronic devices that entered the market after the study was already underway, nor did it test the effectiveness of non-electronic reminders, such as wrist bands and similar items. The release of the NHTSA report was timed to coincide with the hottest time of the year, in an attempt to draw attention to the deaths of toddlers and infants left behind in cars, where temperatures can surpass 130 degrees. According to the NHTSA, heatstroke is the leading cause of vehicle-related death not involving collisions for children under 14. The agency reports that there were 33 child deaths due to hyperthermia in vehicles in 2011, and at least 49 deaths in the previous year. These figures added to the overall 527 heatstroke-related child deaths reported since 1998.