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by Tim Beissmann

The New South Wales Government is considering a proposal to equip cars with ‘child alarms’ that would prevent parents from leaving children in cars.

 

NSW Attorney General Greg Smith told AAP the proposed device could be triggered by a child remaining in a restraint or car seat after the parent walks away from their vehicle.

“One solution to people leaving children in their car might be that if they do that, there’s some sort of alarm that goes off,” Mr Smith said.

“It could perhaps be made loud so that people in the area might well say, ‘That’s a child alarm. What are you doing leaving that child in the car?’”

The issue hit the headlines following yesterday’s sentencing of a mother who left her baby locked in a car for 45 minutes while she went shopping. The woman, who police said “initially displayed a careless attitude and lack of remorse” for abandoning her child in Gosford on October 5, was fined just $400 by a local magistrate who said he was “hamstrung” by overly lenient laws.

Under NSW law, the maximum penalty for leaving a child alone in a car is a $20,000 fine.

 

The concept of child-reminder technology for cars is not new. NASA developed the Child Presence Sensor in 2002, which comprised an alarm on the driver’s key ring and a sensor switch in the child seat. The sensor is triggered when a child is placed in the seat and is not disabled until the child is removed. If the key ring moves too far away from the vehicle a series of beeps sounds. If the driver does not return within one minute, a loud alarm sounds continuously and cannot be reset until the child is attended to.

Do you think child alarms should be compulsory for cars in Australia? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.




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