Every year, thousands of children are left unattended in a car. According to figures from Ambulance Victoria, a staggering 1165 children were rescued by paramedics between September 2013 and August 2014.
There are plenty of excuses as to why parents leave kids in the back seat, like distractions or running late. But, regardless of the excuse, here in Victoria the penalties for leaving a child unattended in a car are $3690 fine or six months jail.
So it’s always reassuring when we find a device like Sense-A-Life, developed to battle the issue. Two neighbours from Tampa, Florida, invented this new device which aims to remind drivers to take the kids out of the car. The innovators, Fadi Shamma, a pharmacist, and Jim Friedman, an electrical engineer, wanted a solution to the growing problem where, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 31 children died of heatstroke in cars in 2014 in the US.
“We were tired of hearing all these sad stories and seeing the agony on parents’ faces and we decided that this is such as serious problem that could probably be solved with a simple solution,” Shamma told Fox 13.
The two-stage device uses sensors, pressure meters, car speakers and a mobile phone app. Two seat pads are connected – one to the child seat and another under a driver’s seat. One kilogram will activate the child’s seat, while the driver’s pad will detect when the driver has left the vehicle and send an audio alert asking the driver to remove the child. A second alert is sent to the driver’s phone, and when unanswered, another back-up alert is sent to a second registered phone.
Car manufacturers have already started developing similar technologies, such as this ‘rear seat reminder’ introduced in General Motor’s Acadia in the USA.
Shamma and Friedman are now looking for partners to help fund mass-production of the device and have it readily available in car seats. We’re hoping to see a technology like this reach Australian shores soon.
Want more? Check out our Child car seats safety guide.