Ignorance, a Bliss that Kills...

...Yesterday, autoevolution ran a story about a new OnStar feature meant to help drivers remember not to forget their children in the car. As we all know, high temperatures are scorching the planet, causing terrible events in Russia, parts of Europe and the US.

Our story, we must admit, was a bit personal and perhaps it shouldn't have been like that in the first place. Because of this, a series of comments posted by our readers prompted autoevolution into doing a follow up, a sort of a more elaborate reply, if you like. This too will be personal, so bear with us.

As we already said, in between August 1-14, OnStar will make all non-emergency contacts from an active OnStar-equipped vehicle close with the advisor’s caution: “Please remember when it is hot not to leave kids or pets alone in a vehicle.“

In yesterday's story, I added a personal comment which goes something like this: “It's beyond us how you could forget your child in a car, regardless of the outside temperature. We also don't get how one can forget leaving the child in a car for an unreasonable period of time.”

It is this comment which caused quite passionate responses from our readers. Phrases like “how dare you?” or “the article is crass in nature” are used to express opinions with which, no offense, I do not agree.

My heart goes out to all those who lost their child in this horrible manner. But, as a soon to be father, it is still beyond me how can one forget a child in a car.

One of you says: “OnStar is at least taking a step.“

Wrong. It is not OnStar who should be taking a step. I don't want to pass judgment on anyone, but it's not OnStar's job to look after the well being of your child. It's yours.

Your child is not a cell phone. He's not a briefcase or a sandwich. He is a human being and, more than that, part of you. Once you've placed your child in the back seat of your car, your responsibility extends beyond keeping your eyes on the road. You should know he is there, no matter where your mind wanders off when you drive.

Another reader points to fatal distraction as a justification for forgetting about the child who died after being left in the car.

Wrong again. No matter how many materials you direct me to read, no matter how many Pulitzer prize winning articles you point to, I still do not understand why OnStar has to advise you to “remember when it is hot not to leave kids alone in a vehicle.“

Distraction is a momentarily slip of the mind. It takes however 10 minutes for the interior of the car to heat from 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) to 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), when the outside temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes another 10 minutes to reach 109 (42 degrees Celsius). What distraction lasts that long?

What we find to be real shocking are the pieces of advice given in the Safe Kids Worldwide-GM video we posted below. There, Julie Kleinert from GM, gives the following advice for parents:

"To help you remember that a child is in the backseat, we recommend that you make a habit of PUTTING AN OBJECT THAT YOU NEED, such as a briefcase, cell phone or a purse in the rear seat, NEAR THE CHILD, so that when you leave the vehicle, you will be reminded that your child is in the car."

Please allow me not to comment on this one...

No, forgetting a child in the backseat is not a crime
. It is irresponsible, illogical and considered to be, in the overwhelming majority of the cases, manslaughter. Regardless of what the jury says in the end.

It is also not a mistake. A mistake is when you take the left turn instead of the right, when you talk on the phone while driving, when you text while driving, when you do all those irresponsible things that a law needs to be adopted to force you to stop...

Stop blaming. Stop finding justifications, motives, reasons, causes. Stop looking for someone or something to tell you what to do. And, most of all, stop asking for manufacturers to install sensors to remind you that you left a human locked in the car...

Start thinking.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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