A Mississippi father is facing charges of second-degree murder after leaving his infant child in an overheated car where it succumbed to heatstroke. But the death of eight-month-old Shania Caradine was far from a rare occurrence. So far, at least 12 children have reportedly died from heatstroke after being left in hot cars by their caregivers – a 240% increase from this time a year ago.
While experts say some of those incidents may have been intentional, the vast majority are considered an accident, a parent or caregiver becoming distracted or breaking from their normal routine. The challenge is to come up with a way to ensure that they don’t leave children – or other valuables – behind when they leave a vehicle.
General Motors is offering a potential solution on its 2017 GMC Acadia SUV, a system it calls the Rear Seat Reminder. It’s designed to detect when a motorist puts something in the back seat and then issue an alert when they’re ready to exit the vehicle. Child safety experts are hailing the concept as a good first step – but they also lament the fact that several even more sophisticated systems promised over the years have failed to materialize.