Wheres Baby NHTSA program

Study says child safety warning systems unreliable

A preliminary assessment of technology devices meant to help prevent children from being left in hot cars has found that the systems are unreliable and have limited effectiveness.

A new study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has found that technology devices meant to prevent children from being unintentionally left in a hot car are neither reliable nor effective.

The leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children under age 14 is heatstroke. Last year, 33 children died after being left in a hot car. Several products have been introduced to the market to reduce these incidents for the most vulnerable child group, those under age 2. Most work by sensing a child in their restraining seat and alerting the caregiver with an audible warning when they are left in the car.

The study found, however, that these devices were unreliable in detecting the presence of a child, would often lose synchronization between the safety system and the keyfob notifier, had large variations in distance required to activate, and could sometimes interfere with other electronics systems in the car. Most are difficult to install and were not waterproof.

The study concludes that while the devices are well-intentioned, they are not effective. The NHTSA urges parents and caregivers to stay aware of the presence of children in the car and take responsibility for their well being through its Where's Baby? Look before you lock campaign.

Some basic tips they offer for keeping children safe in the vehicle:



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