Toddlers left in cars: 'Transport minister must intervene'
Knesset pushing for legislation, making a list of recommendations to ministries, in attempt to stop phenomenon of children forgotten in cars. Similar recommendations within Transportation Ministry have not materialized, neither has PR campaign, promised by minister
Following a series of tragedies in which several babies were forgotten in cars on hot days at the beginning of the summer, the Knesset has begun working for change on the issue. Last Sunday, the ministerial committee approved legislation sponsored by MK Orly Levi-Abekasis (Yisrael Beiteinu) which is supposed to provide a solution to such situations.
According to the proposed law, educational institutions for toddler-aged children will be required to speak with the parents whose children have not arrived at the school that day. The proposal was approved by the ministerial committee and moved on for a full reading.
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Another subject under discussion, according to the Transportation Ministry, is that of technological equipment which would inform adults if a child has been forgotten in a car. It is currently being developed, with the support of the ministry. Different recommendations on the subject were already made a year-and-a-half ago, but they have not progressed since then.
Even so, the ministry claims that at this point, there are still no appropriate standard approvals for this technology which is to be installed in future vehicles. In addition, ministry officials say that the order was given to the National Road Safety Authority – subject to the Transportation Minister – to begin a campaign aimed at parents to develop awareness of the subject and to combine it with driver refresher courses. The PR campaign has still not begun.
According to Levi-Abekasis, the legislation is designed to refine monitoring and control, in order to prevent similar situations. In explanatory notes added to the legislation, she wrote, "In cases where a child is dropped off at an educational institution and grabbed by a stranger, or God forbid forgotten in the parents’ car, speaking with the parents is of added importance, and may save a life or prevent tragedy."
The bill obligates the education minister and the economy and trade minister to determine the procedures for the law’s implementation, including topics such as a time limit for contacting parents after a child does not show up at school, and sanctions in cases of non-fulfillment of this obligation.
In the past few days, Levi-Abekasis spoke on the subject with representatives of the Transportation Ministry, asking them to enact stringent regulations that will help end the phenomenon. "The legislation does not cover every case, thus we must implement advanced technologies," she added. "The Transportation Ministry and the minister must intervene in order to end this. Without their intervention we will not succeed in responding to each instance.”
One of the suggestions that Levi-Abekasis sent to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz was the possibility of defining cases of this type as "road accidents,” in order to incentivize insurance companies to require their customers install protective technologies, as well as to consider allowing a baby chair to be put up front, as opposed to in back, when driving on urban roads.
MK Karin Alharrar (Yesh Atid) announced support for Levi-Abekasis' initiative, saying "I will work immediately, together with my colleagues, to promote this legislation. This is a situation which cannot continue, even one minute.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that next Wednesday the Knesset will hold an emergency conference on the issue of children being forgotten in cars. The conference will include representatives of the Council for Child Welfare, the Transportation Ministry and the National Road Safety Authority.
On Monday, a two-year-old girl was forgotten in the family car for several hours and died. The incident took place in the settlement of Dolev. On Sunday, a five-month-old girl died, also after being forgotten in a locked car for seven hours in the settlement of Shilo. Two weeks ago, on the first day of summer vacation, a nine-month-old girl died after being left in the family car. She was found without a pulse and not breathing, in the vehicle on a Ramat Gan street.
Car in which baby was forgotten, Dolev (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Transportation Minister Katz said that two weeks ago his office requested of the Standards Institution of Israel that they formulate an Israeli standard for a special electronic system that would sound an alert when a child was forgotten in a vehicle.
Katz ordered his staff to speed up the process of creating a standard via the Standards Institution, so that it could be quickly approved and installed in vehicles as soon as possible.
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