The family of a 1-year-old in Orlando is mourning his needless death, not from COVID but negligence. The young boy’s body was found inside a parked car on Friday, and authorities believe he died after being left in a hot car by his unnamed parent or guardian.
According to reports, the young boy was supposed to be dropped off at daycare. But that did not happen, and an ongoing investigation is trying to determine what exactly happened on Friday.
With outside temperatures reaching 87 degrees in the Orlando area on Friday, the internal temperature of the car could increase to almost 120 degrees in roughly one hour if it were parked in the sun. At those temperatures, a child who was locked in a car seat would be unable to call for help or free themselves from the vehicle.
A peer-reviewed study published in Temperature found that even if a car were parked in the shade, it would only have a minimal impact on the internal temperature in the vehicle. Florida law recognizes this risk, and it is a felony to leave a child under six in a car by themselves for more than 15 minutes if the vehicle is running. If the engine is turned off, then the parent or guardian is required to bring the child with them and not leave them in the car.
In 2019, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that heatstroke from being left in a parked vehicle was the cause of death for 52 children across the country. Year-to-date, more than 20 children, have met the same fate.
This raises a question. Why do parents or guardians continue to leave their children in parked cars? Granted, this behavior is dangerous on several levels. Still, the risks are particularly acute in the summertime when temperatures soar, and vehicles with their walls of glass become nothing more than hothouses on wheels.
Such an incident is a parent’s worst nightmare, but in the Sunshine State, the combination of the sun and the heat is means that all drivers must be vigilant. This is not to excuse leaving a youngster in a parked car. These deaths should have been avoided.
Beyond the risk of “hot deaths,” road safety is another issue in Florida. In 2017, Teletrac Navman named I-4 from Tampa to Daytona Beach as one of the most dangerous roads, not just in the state but in the country.
Another Florida road that made the list is I-95 to and from Miami. If you have ever driven this stretch of road, then you know the reason as drivers regularly reach triple digits on the stretch of road leading to the Magic City can scare even the most experienced drivers.
This is one reason why Parkland accident lawyers, Zimmerman & Frachtman, noted that a “sad fact of life that automobile accidents are much more frequent than anyone would like to believe or admit.”
While no one likes being stuck in traffic, the reality is that many drivers in South Florida consistently drive faster than the speed limit, and this can increase the risk for everyone on the road.
According to state officials, stricter enforcement of existing traffic laws could help to make Florida’s roads safer. However, the police cannot patrol every mile of road 24-hours a day.
As such, another option is needed to reduce car accidents. This could include the use of technology to monitor traffic, and when possible, to ticket those who fail to follow the rules. However, this approach is not without its drawbacks.
Improving driver education also plays a role. This not only includes teaching inexperienced drivers but also conveying the dangers of texting and driving, as well as continuing drivers’ education for those seeking to renew their driver’s licenses.
Florida is a great place to live and raise a family. However, the awareness of car safety issues continues to lag in the state, whether it be the dangers of leaving children, pets, and the elderly in hot cars, to the reckless driving which is pervasive on our roads.
As Floridians, we need to do better. This can start with supporting the efforts of our local governments and police departments as they try to increase awareness of these issues to driving safely ourselves.
Everyone has a role to play in making Florida a safe place to live. Will you play your part, or will you read the headlines following another needless hot death or pile up on I-95 and just shake your head? The choice is yours.