It’s not our job to remind them
July 14, 2017
by Ivan Raconteur

With each passing year I become increasingly convinced that the world has gone mad.

One of the signs I received recently came in the form of a press release related to children and hot cars.

The release announced proposed legislation intended to help prevent children from being trapped in the back seats of vehicles in the summer sun.

I have no doubt the bill is well-intentioned, but that does not mean it makes sense.

The release states: “Tragically, an average of 37 children die each year in overheated cars, and more than 700 have died nationwide since 1998. The Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seat Act (HOT CARS Act) would seek to save the lives of children before they become trapped in a hot car.”

I can understand why people would want to eliminate these disturbing and completely preventable incidents.

However, I don’t believe we can legislate our way out of the problem.

According to the release, the bill would require newly manufactured cars to come equipped with technology to alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the car is turned off. “Such technology exists and is available in some vehicles – including many of GM’s 2017 and 2018 models – but has not yet been implemented on a larger scale.”

This is where I have a problem with government sticking its big, inefficient nose into the situation.

If vehicle manufacturers want to incorporate this technology into their vehicles, that’s their business.

On the other hand, if the government wants to require private companies to do so, that is all of our business, because it is consumers who will ultimately pay for it.

I have no interest in paying for people who are either to dim or too distracted to remember they have their own kids in the back seat of their vehicles.

Frankly, that might lead one to question whether they are qualified to care for children in the first place, but that is another discussion.

It is not a question about what an individual life is worth, but there is no doubt the proposed legislation is an inefficient way to try to address the situation.

The authors of this bill assume that it will prevent the 37 deaths that occur each year due to children being left in hot cars.

I’m not convinced that is the case, but whether it would or wouldn’t, it seems the long way around to penalize all car owners for the negligence of a few.

In 2016, more than 7 million cars were sold in the US.

That means that for every person who neglects a child in a vehicle, there are more than 189,000 other car buyers would have to pay for this new technology should it become law, even though they don’t need it.

Of course, many people who buy cars don’t have children, or have children who are old enough that the parents don’t have to worry about forgetting them in the back seat. These consumers would still have to pay for the technology intended to help those who can’t remember where they left the kids.

I take issue with the assertion that the proposed bill is “common sense legislation.”

I don’t believe it is sensible at all.

Supporters will try to play upon the emotions of the public, and will tout this as (to quote the press release) a way “to prevent these terrible tragedies.”

If approved, the bill would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require cars come equipped with technology to alert the driver to check the back seat when the car is turned off. The bill also asks NHTSA to study and report on options and best practices for retrofitting existing vehicles with aftermarket technology.

What is absent from the release is any mention of personal responsibility.

We seem to forget about that a lot these days.

Why is it the responsibility of every member of the car-buying public to look out for the few who are causing the problem?

No one is suggesting raising children is easy, but when parents are so busy or distracted or absent minded that they need to be reminded that they left their kid in the backseat, perhaps it is time to dial it back a bit and maybe re-assess priorities.

Kids should not be victimized by the carelessness of parents, but neither should consumers and private businesses be victimized by a government that would rather throw someone else’s money at a problem than address the real issue.

It is the responsibility of parents to care for their children, and the rest of the country should not be held responsible for reminding them to do so.

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