It always happened when I least expected it, and every time it scared me to death. I’d be driving in my truck and suddenly my three-year-old son’s hand would swing around and grab my ear or tug on my hair. From the backseat. He had escaped his car seat again.
Today, that same inquisitive child of mine – now a full-blown teenager – often forgets to fasten his seatbelt, but I’m comforted by the fact that car manufacturers have recognized that he is only human, as we all are, and have installed dashboard beeps to alert him to buckle up.
Well, Driver’s Little Helper is designed for our precious back seat passengers. It’s a smartphone-enabled car seat system that monitors temperature, movement and arrival. The system, which works on any car seat, can even be configured to send an alert to other family members or caregivers in the event of an unsafe situation. I just wish I had thought of it when my kids were that age.
Of my three sons, Aaron was the most inquisitive and curious about trying to undo mechanisms not meant for prying toddlers. I had researched continually through his preschool years for a monitor that would alert me to his roaming rambunctious spirit in the back seat, to no avail. Initially, I was surprised there wasn’t anything on the market to address the issue.
According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration – three children are killed every day in this country as a result of being unrestrained in a car. And heatstroke is the number one cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths of children. According to NHTSA, in 2012, children 14 and younger who were unrestrained accounted for nearly 170,000 car injuries, 1,100 of them fatalities; an additional 37 children die annually from being left in a car.
When children by law were required to ride in the back seat of a car, the number of injuries and fatalities started to increase. By 2007, I was noticing more and more stories in the news reporting on the topic. It was heartbreaking. I’d worked in the auto industry all my life and started brainstorming ways to address the issue with a friend of mine, an engineer also in the auto industry. We currently have two patents and another 17 pending, both in the U.S. and six foreign countries.
It’s just important to me as a parent, that all parents and caregivers recognize the need for more safety features in the backseat of their cars.
It’s just a fact – children become unrestrained, they overheat and car accidents do happen. Without a system to monitor children in the backseat, these things will continue to happen. Why shouldn’t we, as parents, want to ensure the safety of our children?
We wear bracelets and utilize apps that monitor the number of steps we take each day, tell us how many calories we are ingesting, how many hours of sleep we are getting. Why not have an app to let us know when our child has left his car seat and is roaming freely in a moving car?