A mother in Denver, Colorado, tired of hearing about the number of children dying from heat stroke after being left in automobiles, decided to do something about the shocking statistic. On average, about 40 children die in cars annually from being unattended. As of Sept. 23, 2015, twenty such children have lost their lives across America. Police reports show grim figures establishing most of these were accidental and unintentional deaths.
“A parent cannot always see the backseat, but they can always see the steering wheel,” Hodges explained her idea. “I am a mother of three and recently designed a backseat passenger reminder to prevent infant heat stroke in hot cars,” said Julie Hodges explained. “The steering wheel cover is a backseat passenger reminder that requires no assembly and is always in view and reminds parents and caregivers to exit the vehicle with their children.”
She said her idea came after a “government study in 2012 done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that devices that were made to alert parents were unreliable and I thought that there has to be something more simple to remind parents.”
In her prototypical design, manufactured this year, “the cover was made with the goal that is was affordable, easy to install and impossible to miss,” Hodges added. “This can happen to anyone, and no parent should lose a child and no child should die alone.”
Nineteen states across the country have specific laws making it illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Advocates of such laws consider California’s 2002 “Kaitlyn’s Law” the strongest in the nation. The Golden State prohibits a parent or guardian from leaving a child under the age of 6 unattended inside in a vehicle without the supervision of someone at least 12 years old. Any parent or guardian found in violation receive an automatic $100 fine with the possibility of other criminal abuse charges filed. Seventy percent of the fines collected goes to funding educational programs throughout California on the dangers of leaving children alone in cars.
The top ten states with the highest total number of deaths during the recording period of 1998-2014 are: Texas (95), Florida (68), California (43), Arizona (28), North Carolina (24), Tennessee (23), Georgia (22), Louisiana (21), Virginia (20), and Oklahoma (17).
Hodge’s steering wheel cover has four simple reminders, “Car Seat Occupied,” “Remember Your Sunshine,” “Don’t Part Without Your Heart,” and “Say Bye With Your Cutie Pie,” to be constant reminders in front of each driver.
“The steering wheel cover reminder is a Kickstarter Campaign, meaning that it will only be funded if the goal is raised,” Hodges stated. “If the funding goal is reached, backers’ credit cards are charged when the deadline expires.”
“No one is charged if the goal is not reached,” she added. “If the goal is raised then the reminders will be delivered by February 2016, before the hottest part of the year and when most of these deaths occur.”
Hodges offers three options on the campaign.
- Donate $15 and receive a cover.
- Donate $30 and receive 2 covers.
- Donate $15 for people who do not need one, but would like to donate a cover to a child care facility.
Data from 1998 through 2014 shows the following circumstances:
- 53% – child “forgotten” by caregiver (336 Children)
- 29% – child playing in unattended vehicle (186)
- 17% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult (111)
- 1% – circumstances unknown (4)