Parents and carers urged to look before locking cars
The Victorian Government is launching a new campaign to warn parents and child carers about the risk of accidentally leaving their child in a car due to short term memory failure.
The Australian-first campaign is raising awareness about a phenomenon known as fatal distraction, which can affect any parent or carer experiencing extreme tiredness, stress or a change in routine.
Research shows short term memories can only hold six to eight items at a time, and added to stress and exhaustion, may cause parents to leave their child behind in a car, which can result in serious injury or death.
The Look Before You Lock campaign encourages mums, dads and carers to establish habits that minimise this risk and was developed in response to recommendations of the Victorian Coroner.
Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos today launched the campaign alongside academic Associate Professor Matthew Mundy, who helped develop resources for the campaign.
Parents are encouraged to always look in the back seat before locking their car so it becomes second nature to them – similar to putting on your seatbelt before driving.
Fact sheets on short-term memory failure and advice on how parents and carers can minimise the risk of fatal distraction have been sent to Maternal and Child Health Services and kindergartens across Victoria.
The Government’s Look Before You Lock campaign includes radio and online advertising, billboards on buses, social media messages, and a new website with tips on how to create a safer routine.
Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos said, “Memory lapse can lead to devastating consequences for parents and carers, where they genuinely believe they have taken their child out of the car or dropped them off when they haven’t.
“The Look Before You Lock campaign is about preventing the tragic deaths of babies or children who are inadvertently left in cars.”
“Something as simple as leaving your keys or your wallet or grocery shopping in the backseat, instead of the passenger seat, will help remind you to look in the back, before you lock.”
Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences A/Prof Matthew Mundy said, “Fatal distraction can be caused by a failure in short term memory that can happen to anyone and cause them to accidentally leave a child in a car.
“Parents and carers can train themselves to always check the backseat before locking their cars – it needs to become second nature like putting on a seat belt.”
For more information, see www.education.vic.gov.au/looklock
13 February 2018.