AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Three children in Texas recently died after being left in hot cars in Texas over a three day period, according to Kids and Cars.
The organization, a non-profit that advocates for child safety in and around motor vehicles, reports that from June 20 to 22, hot cars took the lives of an 18-month old in Galveston, an 11-month-old in Ennis, and a four-year-old in Providence Village.
Texas ranks no. 1 in the nation in the number of hot car deaths for children, with 128 fatalities since 1991.
According to Kids and Cars, there were 52 child deaths nationwide in 2018 — making it the worst year in history.
How does it happen?
A contributing factor to hot car deaths, Kids and Cars says, is that nobody seems to believe that it could happen to them.
In a 2017 article, NBC News spoke with University of South Florida Professor of Psychology Dr. David Diamond, who said that “Forgotten Baby Syndrome” attributed the phenomenon to competing parts of the brain.
One part of the brain wants to get future plans done (which the parent can be busy thinking about) and this can cause thoughts about future plans to overrun awareness of current surroundings.
Changes in routines can also contribute.
“When you drive home and don’t normally take a child to daycare, when you have a habit and you are normally driving home from work — and in those subsets or maybe none at all take a child home — well, what happens in all these cases, the parent goes into autopilot mode, which is typically from home to work,” said Diamond. “It’s in that subset of cases the basal ganglia [part of the brain] is taking you on a route that does not include a child.”
Diamond also said that if a child is being quiet and is out of sight, it also helps parents to forget the child is with them.
What’s being done to prevent it?
The Hot Cars Act of 2017, was introduced that year and would have required all vehicles to have technology to help prevent these deaths. The bill ultimately failed in the Senate.
A new act, the Hot Cars Act of 2019 (Senate Bill 1601), introduced earlier this year and was read twice by the Senate before being referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where it remains.