Rhode Island is almost monomaniacal when it comes to the mistaken belief that kids are in grave danger if they wait in the car a few minutes while mom or dad runs an errand.
Forgive me for repeating myself, but RI is repeating itself too. The fact is: If we want to arrest parents who put their kids in danger, we must first arrest the parents who drive their kids anywhere. Because DYING IN A CAR ACCIDENT is far more likely than dying while mom picks up the dry cleaning. In fact, it is also safer to wait IN the car than to walk across the PARKING LOT. So here's the breakdown:
MOST DANGEROUS THING FOR A KID TO DO IN A CAR? Be in it while it is in motion.
SECOND MOST DANGEROUS CAR THING? To take a child out of it and cross the parking lot.
LEAST DANGEROUS CAR THING? Wait in the car a few minutes.
Kids do not die during errands. They die when parents FORGET them in the car for hours. A law that makes it illegal for a child to wait in the car for 15 minutes won't bring back the ones forgotten there for hours.
This is a message Rhode Island seems intent on ignoring. And so, writes activist and rational human being Randall Rose:
The state bill that criminalizes leaving kids in cars was stopped last year, but is coming up again this year. There is a hearing on the bill Tuesday in the House Judiciary Committee at the State House, Room 101. It will start some time after 4:30 on Tuesday, probably between 4:30 and 5:30. It will help if people can come to speak on why this bad bill should be stopped..The bill number for this RI House bill is H7071; an identical bill S2030 has been introduced in the RI Senate. Similar to last year's proposal, this bill would make it a crime in Rhode Island to leave a child under 7 in a car for over 15 minutes, even if the child was accompanied by a 13-year-old sibling, and even if the temperature is fine. People found guilty, even if the child was unharmed, would get a criminal conviction and a fine of up to $150, with up to a year in jail for a second offense. This bill is too judgmental. Almost all cases of leaving children in cars are harmless, and parents sometimes face situations where they reasonably decide that having the child remain in the car is safe enough..Current Rhode Island law already says that police can issue a warning to parents in this situation, and that's better than having fines or criminal penalties for what are almost certainly harmless parenting choices..Please come at 4:30 Tuesday to speak against this bad bill in room 101 of the State House -- if you can't make it till 5 or so, there will probably still be an opportunity to speak.