In the United States and even Utah child deaths result from children being left unattended in vehicles. In a typical year, fOrty-nine children died of hyperthermia (heat stroke) while many more suffered brain and nervous system impairment, kidney problems, blood clots and malfunction of the lungs.
An automobile acts as a greenhouse, and even on days with relatively mild weather, the temperatures inside the cabin of your car can exceed well over 100 degrees within minutes. Adding to that fact, kids’ bodies heat up about three times as fast as adults, and their abilities to cool through the process of sweating are not fully developed.
Utah legislators hope that a new law will help to protect children. What was once a fine is now a crime to leave a child unattended in a car in the state of Utah. It’s a class C misdemeanor to leave a child under the age of 9 in a vehicle who is not supervised by someone 12 years of age or older. This means a parent or guardian can pay a fine and serve up to 90 days in the county jail for a quick trip into the supermarket to buy a gallon of milk.
Obviously no good, sane person wants to find their child lying lifeless in the back seat. Parents leave their children in cars unattended simply because they’re not aware of the dangers involved. It’s commendable that some lawmakers are trying to protect our children. However, helping to educate parents of the dangers far outweighs any fears parents may have of legal consequences. The State should focus more effectively on educating the public rather than seeking ways to punish them. They can start by making it mandatory for anyone seeking to obtain a drivers license in the State of Utah to read this article.