Jump in hot car deaths reported; are smart phones to blame?


WACO, Texas (KWTX) The National Safety Council reports a troubling increase in the number of hot car deaths so far this year and a local researcher says he thinks one big reason adults forget their children are with them is simply that they’re distracted, quite possibly by technology.

The most recent incident involves the death of an 8-month-old girl Wednesday in Louisiana.

Her father was supposed to take her to daycare, but instead followed his normal routine and drove directly to work at a school in Baton Rouge.

He found her in the car during his lunch break and drove her to a hospital, where she died.

The 31-year-old father was charged with negligent homicide.

So far this year, nearly a dozen children have died nationwide after being left in vehicles, nearly three times the number who died last year, and the hottest months of 2016 still lie ahead.

“This can only be distracted behavior,” Baylor Business professor Dr. James Roberts said.

And, he says, the source of the distraction is probably technology.

Roberts is the author of two books detailing his research into technology addiction, particularly as it relates to mobile devices.

"A drop in our attention spans from 12 seconds to 8 1/4 seconds in the last 15 years has been attributed to technology,” he said.

“And to put that in perspective, the attention span of the average goldfish is nine seconds so we have gotten to the point where human beings now have a shorter attention span than the garden-variety goldfish."

Roberts says adults who have a hard time setting aside their smart phones may have to take drastic measures to ensure they don’t leave something precious behind in their vehicles.

"I say the first thing you should do is open up your trunk, put your smart phone in there and get it out when you arrive. I bet you that will reduce this occurrence of events that we're seeing with people leaving their children and other loved ones and their pets behind because they're simply just distracted,” he said.