Poll: Seventy percent of parents willing to leave child unattended in cars

A poll found seventy percent of U.S. parents are willing to their children unattended in cars, despite warnings about the potential dangerous consequences of doing so, The Washington Post reports

The survey, conducted by Alexandria, Va.-based Public Opinion Strategies, found that that fathers and parents of children younger than 3 years old were most likely to leave their children alone in cars while they ran errands that they thought would be quick to complete. 

A majority of the 1,000 parents who participated in the survey said they had heard traffic stories about children being injured or killed in extreme summer weather after being left unattended in automobiles, according to the report. 


Acting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief David Friedman said in a statement that the findings of the poll were very troubling. 

“Leaving a child unattended in a hot vehicle can result in swift, devastating and tragic consequences,” Friedman said. “One tragedy is one too many, and that’s why it’s important for parents and caregivers to understand that they serve as the first line of defense for preventing child heatstroke fatalities.”

The poll results were unveiled at the National Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities in Nashville, Tenn., according to the report. 

Other findings of the survey included that 14 percent said they have left “infants, toddlers or kindergarten-age children” alone in automobiles. Twenty-three percent admitted they had done so with children age 3 and under. 

Eleven percent of parents admitted they had accidently left their children in their cars because they had forgotten about them

Fathers were found to be three times more likely than mothers to have left a child unattended in an automobile, according to the report. 

Safe Kids Worldwide President Kate Carr said in a statement that was provided to the Post that consequences of the actions that were described in the poll could quickly become deadly. 

“Many people are shocked to learn that the temperature inside of a car can rise up to 20 degrees in 10 minutes and cracking a window doesn’t help,” Carr said. “Tragedies from heatstroke in cars happen far too often. They are heartbreaking and preventable, and this research is a reminder that we need to continue to raise awareness, particularly for dads and parents with children under three, to never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute.”