Warm Weather and Cautionary Notes for Drivers
May 30, 2019
By Blair Qualey
Welcome to the time of year that many British Columbians eagerly await; sunny, warm conditions that translate into beach weather and enjoyment of the great outdoors. However, the onset of great weather also brings some inherent cautions.
It’s no secret that forest fires have become an increasing cause for alarm in many areas of the province. Yet, each year many of these blazes are the result of carelessness in one form or another, including drivers who toss cigarette butts from their vehicle windows. Everyone needs to be conscious of the fire hazard and apply common sense.
The second caution is one that drivers, particularly those who are parents of young children or pet-owners – need to observe and be responsive to. Each spring and summer, medical professionals and first responders warn drivers about the dangers associated with leaving a small child or pet in a parked vehicle. Yet, each year we read media reports that illustrate the tragic outcomes that can often result.
The first and only rule is simply to never leave your child or pet unattended in a vehicle during warm weather, period – even for a few minutes. The heat inside a vehicle can quickly become dangerous or fatal, even when the windows are cracked open.
Unfortunately, there are instances when a child is left unattended for no other reason than their presence has slipped the mind of a parent who may be overwhelmed, distracted or exhausted. People often assume that because something is important, it will stay top of mind, but that isn’t always the case. Consider the number of times you might drive to a specific destination but don’t recall every aspect of the journey. It’s muscle memory that at least in part has guided your journey, and many of the functions were simply instinctive.
Police and safety advocates suggest parents develop routines that will help. This may include leaving a personal item you may require at your next stop – like a purse, brief case or cell phone next to the child as an additional reminder. Likewise, it may involve texting the other parent to confirm drop-off.
A number of vehicles now have technology in place to remind drivers that a rear door was opened prior to a trip. The Hyundai Santa Fe goes one step further and includes technology that continues to monitor the rear seat for motion after the vehicle is parked and all doors are locked. Subaru has announced that coming in 2020, all Ascent trims will come a with a new rear seat reminder to assist in preventing a child or a pet from accidentally being locked and trapped in the vehicle.
Apps have also been developed to remind parents that a child may be in the back seat after a vehicle has come to a stop. Using Bluetooth technology, Precious Cargo, Kars4Kids and Google Maps are examples of apps that connect to a vehicle’s radio and once the engine stops, the driver receives an alert.
Car seat manufacturers are also getting involved and in some cases, offering built-in alarm functions thanks to innovative chest clips that alerts parents if the vehicle has turned off or if the driver’s cell phone has left the vehicle, but the child is still clipped in.
As a parent, establish a specific routine, do your research and examine the latest technology that may provide an added level of security because nothing is more important than the health and safety of your loved-ones.
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Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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