Mourning families lobby for new rules to battle 'Forgotten Baby Syndrome'

Existing technology could warn forgetful parents
Posted at 11:23 AM, Jun 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-07 17:24:30-04

Even though there is technology already readily available that is shown to greatly reduce the chances a parent will accidentally leave their child in the backseat of a car, many modern cars are still not equipped with the technology.

Some lawmakers, and mourning families, are hoping to change that.

Today, parents and families who unknowingly left children in hot cars are joining some members of Congress, as well as safety advocates, to introduce legislation that would require cars to be equipped with this already existing technology.

The technology would alert drivers that a passenger remains in the back seat when a car is turned off.

More than 800 children have died from heatstroke in hot cars since 1990, including 9 children so far in 2017.

Florida is second in the nation in cases of children being accidentally left in the back seat of a car by a forgetful parent, with 82 such cases between 1992 and 2016.

It's sometimes referred to as "Forgotten Baby Syndrome."

"It's where the parent completely loses awareness that the child is in the car," explains USF professor of psychology and physiology Dr. David Diamond to ABC News. "It's our brain habit system. It allows you to do things without thinking about it. That plan we have to stop a habit seems to get suppressed. We lose awareness of our plan to interrupt that habit. These different brain systems actually compete against each other."

Dr. Diamond is among the experts who is speaking in support of the legislation being proposed today, saying simple changes in routine, simple distractions, stress or fatigue are among the factors that can contribute to loving and responsible parents unknowingly leaving a child behind in a car.

The "Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats" (HOT CARS) Act of 2017 is expected to get a lot of attention as the nation heads into the summer season.

Part of the reason so many of the cases occur in Florida may be because it is warm in Florida nearly year-round.

Many parents also under-estimate how quickly the inside of a car can heat up, even when it is not that hot outside.