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Many of you have probably read in the news that safety advocates are calling on Congress to require auto makers to install a safety warning chime so children are not inadvertently left in a car. The group says that the same chimes that sense if people aren’t buckled in should also warn whether children are still buckled in cars after they are locked. They believe that until reminders are placed in cars, it is a parent’s responsibility to remember their little ones in the back seat. Is this a good idea? Several comments have been made regarding this “call of action. Here are just a few from the opposed:

“This is another waste of money, I do not have a child and this is a common sense parental priority. Parents need to slow down and remember what is important to them in life. However, if it is an option that can be installed at the dealership then you can pay for it.”

“At what point do we stop trying to regulate "stupid"?”

“So let’s drive up the price of every car because parents are too stupid to remember they have kids in their car? Once again there is a push to legislate good parenting. ‘Let’s save the children’. “

“Obviously the NHTSA has little to do these days. In that case the department should be right-sized to reflect the diminished need for their services. And why push the parental responsibility for kids onto the car manufacturers? What a dumb idea!!”

Here are a few comments in favor of the warning system.

“I keep my cell phone in the back seat next to my child’s car seat (where she cannot reach it). I don’t use a phone when I drive, and when I get to where I am going, I am forced to go back there and get my daughter, along w/ the phone. For women, keep your purse back there. Keep something in the back to make you go back there, just in case you were to forget a child. Better than any alarm.”

“Obviously, many of you people are either flamebaiting or extremely naive to think this could never happen to you. Most parents who have left their children in a hot car are not stupid and do not hate their children. It was a mistake with disastrous consequences. There’s no reason that the warning technology has to be 100% perfect. Most cars today have menu systems where you can turn certain features on or off. Manufacturers could turn it off by default with the option to turn on. There are far fewer children who die from airbag deployments, yet I have a manual override option for that. As a parent I would love a warning system even if it had false alarms. Right now my car warns me about countless things that are much less precious than the life of my child. The problem isn’t that people aren’t aware that cars get hot in the summer. The problem is that people make mistakes. Period.”

And, finally, here is an email I received from one my readers:

Mr. Bello, I have been reading your safety articles for the past several months, and I thoroughly enjoy them. Why? Because they are educational and informative. I must admit that many times I have a totally different opinion of a situation, until I read what you have to say, and let me tell you – I am not easily swayed. This brings me to why I am emailing you. I read about safety advocates wanting an alarm of some sorts to be put in cars so parents don’t forget their children. My first thoughts were, “You must be kidding me. We are going to regulate the auto makers even more because of stupid people? I have to pay more for my car because of stupid people?” Then I thought, what is Mr. Bello’s take on this? I could not find any articles written by you on this particular topic, but I did find another that put things in perspective. I don’t know if you have read the article, but it won the 2010 Pulitzer Price for Feature Writing. Here is the link. It is a long article, but I think it is important enough to share with your readers who may not have seen it. Although I still believe some people need to take parenting more seriously and be more responsible, there are many that do and mistakes happen. I have realized that those that make the most mistakes are many times the best parents. In order to provide for their family, they need to multi-task – hold down a job, maintain the household duties, chauffeur the kids to all their activities, care for a senior loved one, and more. We all make mistakes. If adding a warning system like the one being proposed can prevent a fatal one, then it is worth the cost. I would rather pay the small, additional price when I purchase a car than a huge price if I lost my child. Thank you for all your safety articles. I look forward to continuous reading".

If you have not read the article mentioned, I encourage you to do so. It can be painful to read, but it does shed light on this issue. The writer shares stories on how easily the most responsible parent can accidently leave a child locked in a car. These tragedies often occur when a parent deviates from their normal routine, such as dropping a young child off at daycare when someone else normally does it. It can, and does happen to people just like me and you. I welcome your comments.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when a plaintiff needs necessities of life litigation funding while his/her personal injury litigation is pending. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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