Arizona hot car deaths: Valley father develops BackSeat app to prevent tragedies

Posted at 4:00 AM, Jun 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-08 16:24:46-04

A Valley father is hoping to stop hot car deaths with the help of a smartphone app.

"I remember the day I started," Erin J. O'Connor said. "And that was July 29, 2017."

O'Connor said he was motivated to find a solution after two children tragically lost their lives in less than 24 hours due to being left in hot cars.

The free app was developed less than a year later and is called the BackSeat app and can be downloaded on both iPhone and Android devices. 

RELATED: New study shows dangers of leaving kids in a hot car

When you start driving, the app automatically turns on after hitting a speed of about 20 miles per hour. The user does not need to do anything. 

After your trip is over and you get out of your car, the app will alert you to check for children in the back seat. If you do not open the able and disable it, it will start a rapid-fire notification to your phone. 

O'Connor explained after a few more minutes, the app will start a blaring tone — even if your phone is on silent.  

RELATED: Superior mom tried to shift blame for deaths of children

If all those alerts fail to alert the driver that they have left children in the backseat, there is a third and critical line of defense, that O'Connor said, is unique to his app compared to others.

"It will send out text messages and emails to three people that you selected," he said.

Those messages include the make and model of the car and a GPS location. That way, the person who has been alerted can take action or call 911. 

O'Connor said he would much rather have parents feel embarrassed by an alert on their phone than be devastated by the loss of a child. 

"It can happen to you," O'Connor said. "It has nothing to do with bad parenting. It's absolutely muscle-memory and don't think...don't be so arrogant to think, 'Not me.'"

The advocacy group Kids and Cars estimates an average of 37 children die in hot cars each year in the United States.