As of Nov. 1, New York State law will require most children younger than 2 to be seated in rear-facing car seats. Similar safety laws are in place in several other states, including California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. (Children in New York who exceed height and weight requirements of a car seat will be allowed to use a forward-facing seat.) The rationale is that a rear-facing seat provides better support for a child’s head and neck. Further, studies show that children were 75 percent more likely to sustain an injury in a crash while in a front-facing car seat.
However, I believe that rear-facing seats do have risks. They leave children hidden from caretakers up front, even with the use of a rear-view mirror. This can result in a caretaker not seeing a child’s distress, or forgetting that a child is even in the car. How many children are left asleep in hot cars while a forgetful but loving parent runs an errand, only to return and find the child dead?
Some automakers are already offering sensors as standard equipment to tell drivers that someone is in a back seat, even though industry lobbyists have resisted making this mandatory. However, children’s lives are at stake, and I believe this equipment should be required in all cars.
I believe the problem with today’s parents is that they are attached to their phones, either talking or texting even while driving. I see it every day while driving home from work. So many people are distracted while driving. They even have earbuds in, which is illegal while driving, but how can you hear your kids if you’re listening to music?
Why do parents need to be reminded that their kids are in the car? When we were growing up, we didn’t have that problem. Parents need to focus on their kids instead of themselves.