New Tech May Prevent Hot Car Child Deaths

On average, 37 children die every year due to being left in a hot car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Since 1998, a devastating total of 772 children have died due to vehicular heatstroke. It’s heartbreaking that so many young lives have been lost, and although these fatalities are 100% preventable, the number continues to rise each year. Newsweek reported that as of July 24, there have been 28 hot car deaths reported so far, with an additional 3 child hot car deaths currently under investigation.

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It is difficult to imagine that a parent or guardian could forget their child in the car, yet according to San Antonio Express News, this is the case for approximately half of the reported heatstroke incidents. While stories of children being intentionally left in hot vehicles receive a lot of media attention, this type of hot car fatality occurs less frequently. Parents do not always have to be directly involved, because the NHTSA claims that approximately every 3 in 10 heat stroke fatalities take place when children are playing and decide to climb into unattended, unlocked vehicles.

In just a few minutes, the inside of a car can climb up to 125 °F. This is a dangerous temperature for any human, but it is especially dangerous for children because, “a child's body temperatures rise 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s.” For perspective, according to the NHTSA, “a core body temperature of about 107 degrees is lethal.” Temperature increases occur in the first 10 minutes after the ignition is turned off, regardless of whether the windows are rolled down or not. That is why, even if the windows are left cracked, it is never acceptable to leave children alone in vehicle.

In recent years, technology has been developed to help remind parents to check their backseat, with the goal of preventing children from being left in the vehicle. Since over half of the hot car death cases involve caretakers unintentionally forgetting children, increased use of this new technology has the potential to significantly lower the annual fatality rate. San Antonio Express News recently published an article naming three technology-based options parents can take advantage of to protect the safety of their child, which are discussed below.

In early 2018, car-seat company Cybex released “SensorSafe” technology into their Sirona model car seat. The chest buckle of the car seat is connected via bluetooth to the car and the caretaker’s cell phone. When the buckle is closed, a bluetooth connection is activated. Once the vehicle’s ignition is turned off, a series of alerts are sent to the car dashboard and the connected phone. The car buckle must be unclasped in 4 minutes, or else additional alerts will be sent, not only to the parent, but also to emergency contacts listed. Parents can choose to click either “ignore” or “acknowledge” on the notification itself, showing that they were indeed aware that their child was still in the car seat. Once the belt is unclasped, the bluetooth connection is deactivated. While the Sirona car seat retails for $329.99, it uses cutting edge technology that could be extremely helpful to parents who can afford to purchase it.

Waze

Waze

Car manufacturers are also aware of the problem surrounding child hot car deaths. In 2017, General Motors added a rear-seat reminder system to over 20 of their models. It’s only standard on 10 Chevrolet models, but it can be selected as an add on feature to others. It simply works by sending the driver an alert to remind them that they opened the rear door of their vehicle after they turn off the ignition. This is a great option for any parent looking to buy a new car, but is not practical for those who are currently content with the vehicle they own. For these parents, they can download an app called Waze. In 2016, the popular navigation app added a “Child Reminder” feature, which when activated, sends the driver a notification to, “check your car before you leave” once the destination is reached. This solution is completely free and only requires that the parent inputs their destination once they enter the vehicle, which they might already have done to receive navigational directions.

Most people have experienced the feeling of discomfort after getting into a car that has been sitting in the sun. Now imagine being a child and being unable to escape the excruciating heat. This is a situation that should never happen. Taking advantage of technology like the Cybex “SensorSafe” car seat or the Waze App “Child Reminder” feature can help prevent the fatalities that result from leaving kids unintentionally in vehicles. However, technology may not be an option for all families. Something all parents can do that is free and simple is to, “look before you lock,” as recommended by the NHTSA. It’s an easy habit that could potentially be life saving. With daily life increasingly revolving around cellphones, it is even suggested that parents put their phones or something important like a briefcase or groceries in the backseat to help remind them to check for their child. Ultimately, parents need to find a effective solution, whether it involves technology or not, that works for them and ensures their child does not become another statistic.


Unfortunately, stories of children and pets left alone in hot cars every time summer rolls around has become all too common. While it’s easy to get distracted in today’s nonstop world, parents need to make the safety of their children their number one priority. No matter how hectic life gets, it is never okay to leave a child or a pet in a hot car. Parents should always check the back seat when they reach their destination, and lock their car after making sure no one is inside. For a free legal consultation with an experienced accident attorney regarding any type of auto accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Driving Safety Tips

The National Safety Council's (NSC) National Safety Month is coming to an end, but the safety topic for Week 4, is still important. In fact, driving may be the danger that should be most discussed, since there were 40,100 motor vehicle deaths in America, in 2017 alone! The NSC warns, "We all believe ourselves to be safe drivers, yet up to 94 percent of motor vehicle crashes involve human error. Follow these tips to help stay safe on the roads."

Driving Safety Tips


Avoid Dangerous Driving Behaviors
Prevent injuries on the road by keeping your focus on the driving task:

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• Avoid impaired driving, whether by alcohol, lack of sleep or drugs, including over the counter and prescription medication
• Avoid cell phone distracted driving, including hands-free
• Practice with your teen drivers and teach them to avoid distraction
• Make sure all occupants are properly secured in age-appropriate restraints
• Never leave a child alone in a car and always keep your car locked when not in use
• If you drive for work, talk with your employer about safe habits – do not take calls while behind the wheel
• Regularly check your vehicle for recalls at CheckToProtect.org and stay up to date on the safety features in your car by visiting MyCarDoesWhat.org

Use Safety Features Correctly
Modern cars are filled with safety features that can help protect the driver, passengers and even pedestrians, but they must be used correctly. Look through your vehicle manual to learn which features are available and make use of them to stay safe while behind the wheel.

• Do not rely on safety features to replace you as the driver – you are still your car’s best safety feature
• Make sure you understand your vehicle safety features before using them – not all vehicle safety features operate the same way
• Maintain your vehicle to keep safety features working correctly, including clearing the vehicle of mud, ice and snow
• Pay attention to vehicle alerts and warnings
• Educate teens and all inexperienced drivers about the safety features present in the vehicle and how they work

1 step for safety:

Always wear a seat belt. In 2016, 48 percent of vehicle occupants killed on the road were unbelted, according to injuryfacts.nsc.org.

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While these tips can't guarantee that car accidents won't happen, they may help prevent some accidents. Many causes of car accidents are due to human error. Actions such as texting while driving, eating while driving, and other forms of distracted driving, cause dangerous car accidents that can lead to serious injury and even death. However, by just not engaging in distracted driving, several motor vehicle accidents may be prevented. Similarly, reading up on car safety features and alerts and warnings helps drivers avoid car accidents, since their car can tell them when something is wrong. Car accidents can happen at any time and for several reasons, but if people take as many safety precautions as possible, car accidents due to human error can be eliminated.


Many car accidents are avoidable, especially if they are distracted driving car crashes.  If you've been injured in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PCThe Michigan Law Firm, PC helps victims of motor vehicle accidents identify and recover any benefits they may be entitled to under Michigan law. Our team of accident attorneys understands how traumatic being hit by a negligent lawyer can be. We help people injured in car accidents deal with the legal complexities so that they can focus on their recovery. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation, today.

10 Year Old Takes Mom's Car for a Joyride

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A kid stealing a car and speeding around town and on the highway may seem like something out of an action movie or a video game, but a very real joyride happened just south of the Michigan border last month. According to USA Today, on October 26, 2017, a 10-year old from northern Ohio lead police from multiple departments as well as state highway troopers on a high speed chase through his town and eventually onto the Ohio Turnpike in a stolen vehicle.

The boy had stolen his mom’s 2004 Toyota Avalon, and began driving it through his neighborhood in Westlake, Ohio. A police officer saw the boy go speeding by at around 9:30 AM, and was being chased by another vehicle that was driven by the boy’s mother. Police were also tipped off to the joyride by two 911 calls. One caller reported the vehicle swerving in and out of lanes and running other vehicles off the road. A second caller said the boy appeared to be traveling at speeds of 90 mph or higher.

Two other police vehicles began chasing the boy, following him for about 15 miles. They tried to stop him from entering the interstate, but failed. Once he entered the interstate, he drove through a toll both on the Ohio Turnpike, at which point 4 other police vehicles joined the chase. The police vehicles formed a moving road block, in order to the slow the boy down, who at the point was reaching speeds of 100 MPH. The chase on the interstate lasted about 20 miles, before the boy eventually pulled over into a grassy area. A police vehicle gently bumped up against the boy’s vehicle in order to prevent him from reentering the highway. Reportedly, police motioned to the boy to pull over several times, which he responded to by shaking his head no. Luckily, no was injured in the chase.

WKYC reported that once the boy finally pulled over, he was taken first to a hospital, and then placed in the custody of Erie County Children’s Services. The boy was reportedly very combative with police, kicking and spitting at officers once he had pulled over. Remarkably, this is the second time in only two weeks that he has taken one of his parent’s cars for a joyride. On October 16, 2017, he stole a Dodge Charger and lead police on a very similar chase. Currently, police are speaking with the Erie County Prosecutor’s Office about criminal charges.  

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The boy is not the only one who could be facing criminal charges. While laws vary by state, the boy’s parents could be held responsible for his actions to some degree. If this situation took place in Michigan, according to Michigan law, the parent only faces criminal charges if they were involved in a child’s “bad act,” or if they had knowledge the child was planning to commit a bad act. In 2003, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled “parents may be held liable for failing to exercise the control necessary to prevent their children from intentionally harming others if they know or have reason to know of the necessity and opportunity for doing so.” More so, parents of a child who commits a crime may have to pay for any damages they caused if they child is unable to pay for them.

Joyrides such as this one may sound far fetched, but they do need to be taken seriously. While statistics on underage kids taking cars for joyrides are unavailable, it only takes a quick Google search to know that they do happen, and that they can be extremely dangerous. Parents need to ensure that their car keys are never left out in the open for children to take, as well as make sure their kids know how dangerous it is for them to operate a car. It may sound like something that could never happen to you or your child, but cars are fancy, secretive objects that can be very appealing for a child to try and get their hands on. Once behind the wheel however, a child's lack of experience in driving, a lack of education in road rules, and shorter stature may lead to the child causing a car accident. 


A child speeding down the highway is never something a driver expects to see, much less knows how to respond to. Highways are dangerous enough for the most seasoned driver, and having a child driver only increases the risk of a car crash happening. If you have been involved in an automobile accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. 

It's National Child Passenger Safety Week!

Child injury and death from car collisions are unfortunately all too common, but the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is part of a campaign to help raise awareness as to how parents can help reduce the risk of injury or death to their kids while traveling in the car. The week of September 17th through the 23rd is National Child Passenger Safety Week, and aims to shed light on the importance of using proper restraints for kids when traveling in a vehicle. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, automobile accidents are the leading cause of unintentional deaths for children ages 1-13. The National Security Council reports that in 2015 alone, 1,346 children under the age of 15 were killed in motor vehicle accidents, which is an average of more than 3 kids per day. While these statistics are scary, luckily, there are ways parents can help to reduce the likelihood of their child being injured or killed in a car crash. The simplest way to avoid child car accident injuries is by using the proper restraints. In 2012 alone, the lives of 284 kids, ages 5 and under, were saved due to restraint use, according to Safe Kids. Using car seats, seat belts, and booster seats can reduce the risk of injury or death by up to 50%. Safe Kids also gives the following tips on to how to keep young passengers safe while traveling.

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Child Car Seat Safety Tips

  • The back seat is the best. It is the safest place to ride for all children under the age of 13. Not all cars allow for a car seat in every place that has a seat belt. Check your car owner manual to see where you can put a car seat.
  • Be wary of toys in the car. Choose toys that are soft and will not hurt your child in a crash. Secure any loose objects in the car.
  • Wear your seat belt. We know that when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too.
  • Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute.

Safe Kids recommends that children need to be riding in some sort of restrained device until the age of 13. According to the OHSP, children who are under the height of 4 feet and 9 inches cannot fit comfortably in a seat belt, making them more likely to tuck it behind their back or under their arm, thereby reducing its effectiveness. Seat belts are designed to fit across the hips and shoulders, which are the strongest part of the body. Booster seats lift up smaller children to allow the seat belt to fit properly. According to the OHSP, less than half of children aged 4-7 in the state of Michigan are using booster seats. As kids get older, the use of restraints goes down, even though booster seats are cheaper and easier to use than car seats. Older children are at risk too, as kids over the age of 14 are more likely to not use a seat belt at all. 

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Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan branch of the OHSP, says that the goal is not to scare parents, but to make them aware of the risks that come with not restraining child passengers properly. They also want to provide encouragement by reinforcing how useful car seats and booster seats are when it comes to reducing the number of child injuries and deaths from car accidents. Prince also said that the timing of the campaign is intentional. With school starting, kids are being driven back and forth not only to school, but to sports practices and other activities. The OHSP wants to make sure that parents are ensuring their kids are safe during travel times.

While no parent can guarantee that their child won’t be involved in an automobile accident, they can guarantee that their child is properly restrained. For younger children, it's as simple as making sure they are using car seats and booster seats until they are big enough for seat belts to fit properly. For older children, it's important for parents to set a good example and make sure they are wearing their seat belt so that even when they are not travelling with you, teenagers will remember to wear one. In making child car safety a priority, parents are responsibly helping keep their children as safe as possible in the event of a motor vehicle accident.


Using the proper restraints can reduce the risk of death or injury to children, in the event of a car accident. If you or a loved one have been injured in an automobile accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in handling all types of automobile accident cases, especially those involving children. Our car accident lawyers understand that while car crashes can be confusing enough for adults, they can especially take a toll on children. 

School Bus Traffic Safety Laws for Drivers

As students across Michigan return to classes for the new school year, drivers are sure to notice an increased number of school buses on the road. School buses are an excellent mode of transportation for students. In fact, riding a bus is safer than walking or driving a family vehicle. More so, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), students are 70x more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus as opposed to traveling in a car. The reason for this level of safety may be due to how school buses are designed. First, the bright yellow color of a school bus makes it highly visible. Then, the equipped flashing lights, cross-view mirrors, and stop-sign arms, not to mention protective seating inside the bus, also help to keep students safe.

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In addition to these design elements, there are traffic laws put in place that also keep school buses safe on the road. However, the traffic laws that drivers must follow when driving near a school bus can be a source of confusion, and not following these laws properly may lead to a school bus crash on the road or a pedestrian car crash at a student crossing. According to the NHSTA, more school-age pedestrians are killed during the hour before or after school than any other time of day, largely due to drivers not stopping when they are near school buses. Data published by the NHSTA shows that 1,353 people were killed in accidents involving school buses between 2003 and 2014. Of those who died, 71% were not on the school bus but were were traveling in other vehicles, such as sedans and SUVs.

School bus traffic laws can be confusing, but the Michigan State Police has offers the following recommendations to help drivers avoid becoming involved in school bus car crashes.

School Bus Safety Tips for Drivers

  1. Prepare to stop when a slowing bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing.

  2. Stop at least 20 feet away for buses when red lights are flashing, unless driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway.

  3. Slow down in or near school and residential areas.

  4. Look for clues-such as safety patrols, crossing guards, bicycles, and playgrounds-that indicate children might be in the area.

  5. Watch for children between parked cars and other objects.

  6. School buses are like traffic signals:
    • When overhead lights are flashing yellow: Prepare to stop.
    • When overhead lights are flashing red: Stop.
    • When hazard warning lights are flashing: Proceed with caution.

School Bus Safety Tips for Students

  1. Always stay in sight of the bus driver.
  2. Don't hurry off the bus; check traffic first.
  3. Don't go back to the bus after exiting.

As the NHSTA notes, the greatest risk does not come from riding the bus, but from approaching or leaving one. While following these tips cannot guarantee bus accidents won't happen, they may help keep both students and drivers safe by reducing the number of injuries and deaths from school bus accidents. 


Stopping for school buses is the law, but this law is not always followed. Not stopping for school buses may result in injury or death for those who are on the school bus, those who are traveling in other vehicles, and even pedestrians. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a school bus crash or any type of bus accident, call The Michigan Law Firm PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. Our firm is experienced in handling personal injury and motor vehicle accident cases.
 

2017 Has Record Number of Hot Car Child Deaths

In June, The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog wrote about a newborn child who was abandoned in an unknown car during an extremely hot summer day. While this Grand Rapids, Michigan baby was thankfully uninjured, issues relating to children being left alone in cars are only becoming more urgent as 2017 has seen more hot car deaths than any year before.

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As reported by CNN, the end of July 2017 marks the highest number of hot car deaths ever recorded from the beginning of the year to the end of July. As of July 31st, 29 children died of heatstroke and other heat related problems after being left alone, trapped inside a sweltering hot car. The previous record was held in 2010 after 28 children died from heatstroke before August 1st. Ultimately, 48 children died in hot car incidents in 2010.

In 2001, Jan Null, a certified consulting meteorologist for the past 40 years with the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University, began recording hot car deaths. Null conducted an experiment when he first began researching temperature levels of parked cars that are left to absorb heat on warm days. He placed a thermometer outside of the car that measured the natural outside temperature, and then placed one inside a car that had air conditioning on, but had just been parked and locked. The results were surprising.

In the first ten minutes, Null found that the temperature can rise 19°F (Fahrenheit) in a sitting parked car. When conducting the experiment at 70°F outside, he stated that the temperature inside the car rose to 89°F after ten minutes. Similarly, when he conducted the experiment starting with 90°F temperature, the car’s temperature rose to 109°F in just ten minutes. When commenting on his experiment, Null stated, "you get to these very high temperatures very rapidly. How hot it got was one surprise, but how fast it got to a deadly temperature was even more unexpected.” Null further explains that among medical professionals, 104°F is generally accepted as heat stroke range, and 107°F can prove fatal to the human body. According to Null, the temperature inside a parked car on an 80°F day can rise to 109°F just after 20 minutes! 

Hot Car Child Death

So, why is this increase in car temperature on a hot day important for child safety? Well, CNN also noted that “according to the Mayo Clinic, kids are far more susceptible to falling victim to summer heat because their bodies are not fully developed, thus rendering them less able to cope with extremely hot temperatures. Children's body temperatures rise five times faster than that of an adult’s. The danger of a rising temperature is that it can cause heatstroke. Heatstroke can result in permanent brain, heart or kidney damage, and even death. The temperature of the body rises because when a person is dehydrated, they lose their ability to sweat. That is, they lose their ability to rid their body of heat and cool themselves down, which results in the rapid increase of one’s body temperature.”

According to Jan Null, an average of 37 children die each year due to hot car related incidents. Since 1998, he states that 729 children have died of heatstroke after being trapped inside of cars. 

In response to these issues, legislation has just recently been passed to help prevent wrongful deaths of children who are left alone in hot cars. On July 31, 2017 U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act (HOT CARS Act 2017). According to Kids and Cars.org, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires in this legislation, that in the next two years, all new vehicles must be equipped with visual and audio technology that notifies drivers to check their backseat for children before they exit their car. The Act also requires research into the implementation of these reminder systems into older cars as well. 

General Motors has already implemented technology in their cars to to remind parents to check their back seats for children. The Rear Seat Reminder is a feature that detects rear door usage rather than any objects on the seat. The feature is designed to just remind drivers to check their back seats, regardless of what might be there. 

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Jan Null believes the HOT CARS Act and new safety features implemented in cars will help deter heat illness-related deaths of children, however, he warns that they will not protect all children. Null explains that the Act fails to address two other causes of hot car deaths: children gaining access to vehicles by themselves and then being unable to exit the car, and parents just making the very poor choice of leaving their children alone in a car for a period of time. He believes making sure cars are always locked, teaching children that cars are not an area for play, and making sure car keys are always out of reach of children, will help deter hot car incidents as well. 

Children should never be left alone in cars, regardless of the circumstance and period of time in which they will be alone. Stories of children dying from being left alone in hot cars are both tragic and sickening. That fact that Americans broke the record for most recorded hot car deaths to children in the first seven months of this year, should be cause for grave concern. However, it is reassuring to know that more is being done to address this issue such as the introduction of the HOT CAR Act of 2017 and designing of car safety features to remind drivers to check their back seat for children before exiting their vehicle. The bottom line is that children are too young to cope with intense weather conditions, and must always be supervised and should never be left alone in a hot car.


Stay Safe At The Summer Drive-In Theater

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Summer is in full swing, and with kids everywhere out of school, parents are looking for ways to keep their children busy. While the pool, park, and zoo are excellent options for a fun day out, many Michigan families are spending summer evenings at the drive-in movie theater. A drive-in typically takes place in a large parking lot, where vehicles can pay to park and watch movies on theater-size big screens, as they sit comfortably in their cars and listen to the sound on the radio. Some drive-ins even have concession stands where people can buy snacks and drinks. The drive-in movie theater is an entertaining way for parents to use their cars for something other than driving, while making the kids happy, too.

The drive-in movie theater is not a new concept. In fact, they weren’t even called drive-ins originally, but a “park-in” because of the parking lot movie theater setting. In the summer of 1933, motorists parked their cars on the grounds of Park-In Theaters in Camden, New Jersey, the site of the first ever drive-in movie theater. As the idea caught on, more drive-ins popped up all across the country. According to HISTORY.com, one of the largest drive-ins featured parking space for 2,500 cars, a kid’s playground, and a full service restaurant, spread out across 28 acres. If only extravagant drive-ins like that existed today, parents would never have to worry about their children being bored!

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Today, however, there are less than 350 drive-in theater locations across the country. Luckily for Michigan residents, the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association (UDITOA) says our state is home to 8 different theaters with 18 total movie screens. Metro Detroit is home to two drive-ins: the USA Hockey Arena Summer Drive-In located just off M-14 in Plymouth, and the Ford Drive-In in Dearborn. Movies begin at dusk, and films change weekly, showing everything from Disney cartoons to the latest action blockbuster. 

However, just because vehicles are parked at the drive-in, does not mean they aren’t still dangerous. Children often run around and play in the parking lots at a drive-in as they wait for the movie to start, putting them at risk for a severe injury or fatality from a moving vehicle nearby. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) recommends summer motor vehicle safety tips, including tips for kids.

Motorist and Child Safety Tips for Drive-In Theaters

  1. When backing out of a parking space at the drive-in, walk around your vehicle first to look for children running and playing. Children playing are often oblivious to cars around them.
  2. When using a backup camera, it is important to remember that kids might be out of view, but may still be in the path of a vehicle. Additionally, all vehicles have blind spots that increase in size as the height and size of the car increases.
  3. There are lots of people and vehicles moving around upon entrance and exit to the drive-in, so drivers must pay attention to their surroundings and parents must watch out for their children so as to prevent a motor vehicle from backing or running into a pedestrian.

Summer drive-ins transform everyday vehicles from modes of transportation to a relaxing place to kick back and catch the latest movie. The rare and old-school format of drive-ins make them fun for families of all ages. Still, warm weather calls for summer safety tips, and safety at the drive-in is just as important as on the roads. Anytime a motor vehicle is involved is an opportunity to practice automobile accident prevention safety, and the drive-in movie theater is no exception. 


Summer is a great time to enjoy the warm weather at a local drive-in movie theater. Children playing at the drive-in should watch for moving vehicles and drivers must be aware of their surroundings, in order to prevent an injury or fatality from a car crash. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Are Rear-Facing Car Seats Safe for Infants?

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On May 16th, 2017, a vehicle was rear-ended on East Stewart Avenue in Flint, Michigan. As reported by MLive, in the vehicle was an 8 month year old infant, who sadly died after suffering critical injuries in the accident. Micah Kent, the young infant, was reportedly in critical condition and was rushed to the Hurley Medical Center, however, the injuries he sustained proved fatal. The vehicle carrying the baby was a 1997 Mercury Sable, and it had been hit from behind by a man driving a 2002 Saturn SL2. Police have reported that they believe the driver was under the influence of drugs and alcohol during the crash. It was not stated how the baby was riding in the vehicle or if a car seat was used.

Stories like this are heartbreaking. Infants are highly susceptible to injuries from car crashes because their spines are still developing and their heads are still large relative to their bodies. A baby’s neck and spine are not strong enough to sustain the force of a car accident without the proper protection of a car seat. Child car safety experts tell parents to always make sure a car seat is rear-facing for infants under the age of two. That is, the car seat is facing the backside of the vehicle.

The Issue With Rear-Facing Car Seats

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Child car safety experts tell parents to face car seats toward the back of the vehicle because an impact to the front of the car is the most common type of car crash in America. Per The Washington Post, of the infants under the age of one killed in collisions between 2005 and 2009, one third were involved in frontal or offset crashes while only 15% were killed in rear-end crashes. Facing a car seat to the back of the vehicle can keep the baby’s neck and spine straight while the car seat eliminates whiplash from the crash.

Again however, this safety measure is intended to protect babies from crashes to the front of the vehicle. As evidenced from the tragic story above, babies can face severe risks from rear-end collisions as well. The issue is that car seat manufacturers tend to read statistics like the ones given by The Washington Post and focus on creating safety measures for frontal crashes because they are the most common. As a result, they overlook the risks associated with infants in rear-end collisions. 

Flint Car Collision

The Washington Post also outlined an experiment and study published by the Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention. The experiment depicted the impact of a rear-end collision with a car moving 30 mph carrying an infant-sized dummy sitting in a rear-facing car seat. The experiment showed the car seat lurching toward the back of the car and the dummy’s head colliding hard with the back seat. The car seat researchers who conducted the experiment recognized that a car colliding with another vehicle in reverse at 30 mph is unlikely, but they were nonetheless surprised by the force of impact absorbed by the infant dummy’s head. The child car safety experts, however, were more concerned that their findings would scare parents into thinking rear-facing car seats were not the safest option. They made sure to specify that babies should remain in rear-facing style. The experts intentions for the study were not to show that babies are unsafe facing the back of vehicles, but rather that rear-facing car seats could be made safer.

No Car Seat is Crash Proof, But Rear-Facing Car Seats Are The Best Option

Rear-facing car seats, as opposed to forward-facing, are the best option for infants up to the age of two. As stated above, frontal or offset crashes are the most common type of crash. Rear-facing car seats have been designed to mitigate the force of these frontal crashes and stop any whiplash from occurring. Additionally, the most common type of rear-end crash occurs when the car is moving between 5-10 mph. Although whiplash can still be felt at these speeds, it is more important to focus on reducing the impact of frontal crash that could occur at 30 mph or faster. It is even mandated in three states that infants are remain rear-facing until they reach the age of two. 12 states require babies to sit in rear-facing seats until they are at least one. To ensure an infants rear-facing seat is as safe as possible, parents should secure the car seat through their vehicle's seat belt or L.A.T.C.H. system. Generally, a car seat is secure if it cannot be moved more than one inch in all directions.

Below are more car safety tips provided by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Car Safety Tips for Infants

Car Seat Safety
  • Your child should be in a rear-facing car seat until the age of two.
  • Always put your infant’s rear-facing car seat in the back seat of a car. A baby sitting in the front passenger seat of a car could be fatally injured by the blunt force of an air bag.
  • Always have snug safety harnesses at or below your baby’s shoulders. Make sure there is no room to pinch a fold in the harnesses.
  • Never place a blanket between your child and the harnesses, and do not dress your baby in bulky clothing that could lessen the snugness of the safety straps. Instead, place a blanket over the harnesses and child. 
  • Lastly, remember that your child has outgrown his or her’s rear-facing seat if his or her head is touching the top of the car seat. There should be at least one inch between the top of their head and the top of the car seat.

So, the question remains: are rear-facing car seats safe for Infants. The easiest answer is that they are the better of two evils. The rear-facing car seat is the best option for children under two years of age. However, they do not completely ensure an infant's safety, especially from rear-end accidents, but they are safer against the more common frontal car accidents. Hopefully however, the focus for the future of child car safety is not on deciding which type of crash deserves the most attention, but rather, how to make a car seat that can be safe in all car accident types. 


The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC is a Birmingham, Michigan personal injury firm. Our firm handles personal injury lawsuits throughout the state. Call 844.464.3476 today to speak to an experienced injury attorney today. We offer free consultations and honest and fair legal representation.

Newborn Baby Abandoned In Unknown Car

Child Hot Car Lawyer Michigan

A visitor to Mercy Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI discovered a newborn baby abandoned in a car in the hospital parking lot, on the morning of June 12, 2017 and alerted police. The baby was not found in its parents' car but in an unknown man's vehicle. Officials are currently working to get to the bottom of the case. It has been reported that the baby’s 24-year-old mother is currently cooperating with investigators. However, it is still unclear whether or not the baby’s mother knows the man in whose car the baby was found.

Luckily, the baby, who appears to have been born within the last week, is in good health. However, the baby's abandonment is even more alarming because of the recent hot Summer weather in Michigan. Temperatures outside on Monday, June 12th reached the mid-90s, turning the inside of vehicles into ovens. It is of course, never safe to leave children or pets inside hot cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that from 1998-2016, 700 children died from heatstroke in vehicles. 54% of these deaths were due to the child being forgotten in a car by a caregiver. While a few minutes in a hot car might sound harmless, in just ten minutes, a car can heat up to 20 degrees higher than the outside temperature, which can be enough to kill children who are left in vehicles. Additionally, children are often too young to alert others for help if they are trapped in an abandoned car.

Source:  Kars4Kids.org

It is therefore important to “check for baby” before leaving the car, to ensure child hot car safety. Making it a habit to check the backseat before leaving the car can prevent children from being left behind on hot days. The non-profit organization Kars4Kids wants to help bring awareness to this important subject. They have developed an app to help forgetful parents remember that there is someone alive and breathing in the back of their vehicle, among the mountains of groceries.

They have created an app, called Kars4Kids Safety, which is designed to set off an alarm every time a phone that has the app leaves a vehicle. It does this by connecting to a car's Bluetooth technology to track when a user goes in and out of a vehicle. A customizable ringtone and option to add your child's photo make remembering to double check one's car as easy as posting on Facebook about your baby's first trip to the pool. Considering that even with windows rolled two inches down, a car can overheat at mercury-defying rates, Kars4Kids is helping fight for child car safety.  

Not only is it important to make sure children aren't left in cars, but it is equally important to not allow them to break into a vehicle when adult attention is turned away. Cars may look like giant playgrounds to small children, but in reality they are powerful, dangerous machines that should only be used for driving and not for hide and seek. By locking the car when it is not in use and by keeping keys out of reach of children, children can be stopped from being able to get into a vehicle and potentially trapping themselves inside.  

Michigan Child Car Safety Lawyer

While most parents and caretakers unintentionally leave children and pets in cars because they were distracted and forgot about the quiet dog or sleeping baby in the back, others think it's ok to leave a child in a car because they'll be right back in just one minute. While these actions are dangerous to the child, they are not done with ill intent. The Grand Rapids baby on the other hand was presumably, intentionally, abandoned in a hot car in a hospital parking lot. It's a shame that this is how the mother decided to leave her child when, according to CBS Detroit, the State of Michigan allows people to surrender their newborn babies to hospitals and other emergency care providers, without having to worry about criminal charges. In fact, the mother could have left the baby safely with a health care professional in the hospital itself, where she presumably gave birth, and not outside in a hot car. No matter what, there is no excuse for leaving a child to die alone in a hot vehicle. 

Driving with children always requires extra precautions, particularly in the Summer when scorching hot temperatures make vehicles burn to the touch. With the rescue and shelter resources available around the State of Michigan, there is no reason a child should be left behind. On June 12, a stranger saved a newborn baby's life. Next time, someone might not be there until it is too late.


Children should never be left in car on sweltering hot Summer days, for their own safety. If you so someone you know is in need of legal assistance relating to an incident of child car safety, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.Firm for a free consultation.

How To Share The Road With A School Bus

Detroit School Bus Accident Attorney

It’s an average Tuesday morning, and you're in a hurry to get to work on time. Unfortunately, you are now driving behind a school bus which is stopping every 50 yards along its path to pick up students on their way to school. Many drivers flirt with the temptation of driving around and passing the bus, even as the lights begin to flash and the STOP sign comes out. Not only is passing a school bus while it’s stopped and picking up students illegal, it’s extremely dangerous. DriveSafely.net estimates that 50,000 motorists illegally pass a school bus every single day. While a good portion of these drivers make the decision to pass the bus because of a lack of patience, there are many drivers that pass a bus because they are not familiar with the local laws pertaining to school bus safety. 

The Michigan State Police (MSP) have outlined how driver’s should react when driving near a school bus, as well as the possible consequences for breaking the law. 

School Bus Safety Tips for Drivers: 

  • Prepare to stop when a slowing bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing
  • Stop at least 20 feet away for buses when red lights are flashing, unless driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway
  • Slow down in or near school and residential areas
  • Look for clues such as safety patrols, crossing guards, bicycles, and playgrounds which indicate children might be in the area
  • Watch for children between parked cars and other objects
Michigan Bus Crash Lawyer

The MSP suggests that drivers treat school buses as regular traffic signals. When the overhead lights are flashing yellow, drivers should prepare to stop. If the bus lights are flashing red, stop immediately and do not attempt to pass the bus. When hazard lights are flashing, it is okay to proceed around the bus with extreme caution. The MSP also encourages parents to have a talk with their children about what they can do to stay safe when boarding and exiting the school bus. Children should stay in sight of the bus driver at all times, and always walk around the front of the bus, not the rear. Children are also advised to not hurry off the bus, and make sure that there is no oncoming traffic before crossing the street.

Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill into law in 2012 which made it illegal to pass a school bus while it is unloading students under any circumstances. Violators of the law could pay a fine between $100 and $500, as well as serve a required 100 hours of community service. 


No matter how frustrating it may be to get stuck behind a school bus, there is no excuse for breaking the law and endangering school children. If you find yourself getting stuck behind a bus on a daily basis, it may be best to find a different route to work. If you or somebody you know has a child injured due to a car attempting to pass a school bus, please call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our firm will work hard to get you any financial support for medical services and any other expenses you may experience, that you may be entitled to under Michigan law. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

GM Safety Feature Prevents Children From Being Left in the Car

Child Safety Crash Lawyer

All too often, we hear about a parent leaving their child in a vehicle on a warm day, which may lead to the child’s death. Many parents forget their child was left in the car, become distracted, or think that a quick run into the supermarket won’t cause any harm. General Motors (GM) has found a potential solution to the problem, as the automaker is introducing a new feature on the 2017 GMC Acadia to help prevent these deaths. 

CNN Money reports that much like a seat belt alert, a warning tone will sound and a reminder to “Look in Rear Seat” will be displayed in the center of the Acadia’s speedometer. The feature will use the same sensor system that alerts the driver that one of the doors is open while the car is in drive. If those sensors detect a back door being opened and closed before the driver gets in and starts the car (or any time while the engine is running) then the back seat warning is triggered. According to Tricia Morrow, GM’s Global Safety Strategy Engineer, the feature is not optional and will be included in all new Acadias. 

On very warm days, it doesn’t take very long for small children to be overcome by the heat inside a vehicle. According to NoHeatStroke.org, 12 children have already died from heatstroke while sitting in a car this year. In 2015, 24 children died due to being left in the car too long. Since 1998, an average of 37 children died every year while trapped inside the vehicle.

More than half of these cases are due to parents forgetting their child was even in the car in the first place. This is even more likely to happen when the driver has a change in their everyday routine and is not used to having a child in the car with them.  Oftentimes, when children are left forgotten in parked cars, there is also a risk of the child getting hurt by way of parked car accidents. Even cars in a parking lot can be hit by passing by vehicles. And in the event that there is a child in the back seat, this could lead to severe injury or even death.

GM is planning on introducing this back seat warning feature for other four-door GM models in the future, Morrow stated. Morrow suggests that parents who are carrying small children in the back seat can put a laptop, cell phone or other item they ordinarily need back there as well, so that when it’s time to get out of the car at their destination, they will look to the back seat and see their child. 


Parents should never leave their child unattended in the car, but it is specially dangerous during the summer time when temperatures within the car can reach anywhere from 100 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit in as little as 10 minutes. If you or somebody you know has been involved in a car accident in which a child was left in a vehicle, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

The Dangers of Leaving Children and Pets In A Hot Car

Dog In Hot Car Lawyer

As the summer is currently in full effect, this is a friendly reminder that parents should always make sure NOT to leave their kids or pets in a hot car by themselves.

While local news constantly covers the horror stories of parents forgetting about their kids when they go to work or go back into their house, sometimes parents intentionally leave their kids in a hot car. This is not because the parents intend to harm their child or dog, but because they rationalize that they will only be gone for a minute. Whether popping your head into a store to just grab one item or unloading a car full of groceries, it is wrong to leave a child in the car. A few minutes in a hot car could lead to death for a child, if hot enough. 

Recently, Kars4Kids sponsored the Hot Car Challenge in Lakewood, New Jersey, to see how long adults could last in a hot car. They were offered 100 dollars if they could sit in a hot car for ten minutes with the windows rolled up. The temperature was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and though many probably thought the challenge would be a piece of cake, none of the adults could successfully complete the challenge. 

Car Crash Lawyer

Although people who did not partake in the challenge could remark that they could have survived the ten minutes or that the challenge was staged, they are missing the point. Many people don't realize how hot a car can get. Greg McKay, director of the Department of Child Safety did another demonstration on how hot a car will get within 10 minutes of the windows being rolled up. On the day of McKay’s demonstration it was also 90 degrees Fahrenheit. outside. However, after 10 minutes the temperature inside the car became 108 degrees because of the rolled up windows. And after 25 minutes the temperature rose to a whopping 124 degrees. This shows the serious danger of leaving a child or a pet in the car on a hot day. 

If the sheer temperature isn't enough to ship people from leaving children unattended in hot cars, here is an even scarier number. More than 750 children, mostly toddlers and younger, have died of a heat stroke in the back seats of cars since the mid-1980s, which is about an average of 38 kids per year.

The Hot Car Challenge was performed to remind people how easily it is for a child or a pet to die due to being left in a hot car. If adults can’t handle staying in a car for ten minutes, there is no reason to think that children can.

Tips To Prevent Hot Car Deaths

In order for people to ensure the safety of their child, here are some more old-fashioned methods that can help prevent hot-car deaths:

  1.  Leaving a purse or briefcase in the backseat with the child.
  2.  Removing your shoe, wallet or cellphone to put with your child.
  3.  Keeping a stuffed animal in the back seat car seat. When a child is in the seat, place the toy in the passenger seat as a reminder.

All of these tip help remind adults to check the backseat so that no helpless passengers are left behind when the adult exits the vehicle.

It is also important to note however, that exposure to extreme temperatures and their resulting symptoms are not the only way that children and pets may be harmed when left unattended in a vehicle. Motor vehicle accidents are very common with parked cars. Whether stopped on the side of a road or in a parking lot, collisions happen. While the vehicle is unoccupied the only concern may damage to the car and the hassle of dealing with auto insurance companies, however, when the vehicle has a child or a pet in it, the situation becomes very serious. In the case of a hit and run, a child or dog could be injured and could go unnoticed until the owner of the car comes back. 

The bottom line is, DO NOT leave children or pets unattended in a car.

Parked Car Accident Lawyer

As summer reaches it's peak, it is important to be mindful of protecting children and pets from the heat. Children and pets should NEVER be left a hot car by themselves, for any reason. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident due to occupying a parked car, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys are highly experienced in handling any time of motor vehicle collision, including those involving parked cars. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Heat Related Child Car Deaths Have Doubled Since 2015

Tragedy struck Dallas this past weekend as a toddler became the 21st child to die in a hot car this year in the United States, according to the national safety advocacy organization KidsAndCars.org. That is nearly twice as high as the number of children who died due to being in the car under hot temperatures than this time last year. 

With temperatures in the mid-90’s on Sunday afternoon, the child’s father noticed that the boy wasn’t in his regular children’s Bible service class, according to CNN. A member of the Dallas Matu Christian Church stated that the boy’s father went to his car, found the boy inside and carried him into the church, shouting that someone needed to call 911. After paramedics performed CPR, the boy was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

A couple days before, 4-year old Samaria Motyka died in a car in Pennsylvania, where the temperatures rose to 97 degrees. CNN reports that a woman who takes care of the girl usually dropped her at daycare in the mornings but on Friday the woman drove to work. At the end of the day, she returned to her car and found the girl unconscious. Attempts of reviving the girl from paramedics were unsuccessful. 

“The biggest mistake people make is thinking that it can’t happen to them”

According to Jeanette Fennell, KidsAndCars.org founder and president, there are typically two sets of circumstances that lead to this kind of tragedy. Children will either get into a car on their own or an adult leaves them in the car because they were distracted or didn’t think the heat would have such negative effects on their child. The organization has given parents tips which will help prevent them from forgetting their child is in the backseat, including putting something they need in the backseat which will force them to look in the backseat where the child is sitting. Fennel says that an average of 37 children die every year from heat stroke in a vehicle. 87% of kids that die this way are 3 years old or younger. 

“The biggest mistake people make is thinking that it can’t happen to them,” Fennell said. “Everyone should practice those safety measures and do whatever they have to do to remind themselves to check the backseat.”


Parents please be aware of your child's presence in the car, especially during these summer months where cars can reach dangerous temperatures in a matter of 5-10 minutes. Tragedies like these are 100% preventable. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an auto accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Westland, Michigan Police Officer Buys Car Seat for Struggling Father

Here’s a heartwarming story: a Westland, Michigan police officer purchased a car seat for a struggling young father who was pulled over for a window tint violation. LeVonte Dell of Inkster was driving with his young daughter when he saw the flashing lights in his rear view mirror. “My heart dropped in my stomach. I thought I was going to get hammered with tickets, more stress, more bills,” Dell told Fox 2

Car Accident Lawyer

While walking up to Dell’s vehicle, Westland police officer Joshua Scaglione noticed that Dell’s daughter was riding along without a proper car seat. “I asked him, ‘Why do you have your kids in the back without a car seat?’ and he’s like, ‘I can’t afford it,” Scaglione said. "So I took him out of the car, separated him from his family and asked him what’s going on. He’s like, ‘Bills are building up, overtaking my income, and I can’t afford a car seat right now.”

Offering to help, Scaglione had Dell follow him to the local Walmart and bought the troubled father a new car seat. Dell wanted Scaglione to be properly recognized for his charity and selflessness, but Scaglione had left before Dell could get his name or even thank him for helping him out. Dell went on Facebook after returning home from Walmart to give thanks to the anonymous police officer. Luckily, the Westland Police Department had heard about the kind act and gave Dell the opportunity to see Scaglione again and offer his deep appreciation. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, properly used car seats can reduce the risk of deaths of infants by 71%, and booster seats can reduce the risk for serious injury by 45%, for children ages 4-8, when compared to simply using a seat belt. While it may take extra time to get a baby or child properly strapped into a proper fitting car seat, it can be well worth the time, as it may just save a child’s life. 


Being involved in a car accident can be scary enough, but having your child in the car during an accident can be a parent's worst nightmare. If you or somebody you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident with a child in the vehicle, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. We understand that it is difficult and expensive to identify injuries and get treatment for children's injuries. Let our experienced legal staff help you identify benefits for you and your injured children, so that your family can focus on recovering. Please call us, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.