Do you ever leave your child alone in the car, for example, long enough to run a quick errand or drop off the youngest child at daycare? But what does the law say on the subject?
According to section 380 of the Quebec Highway Safety Code, "no one may leave a child under the age of 7 unattended in a road vehicle in his custody". In short, you cannot leave a child 6 years old or younger alone in your car. If you do, you face a minimum fine of $95. Every year, dozens of tickets are issued in Quebec.
A few nuances
Article 380 is therefore clear, even if the notion of “surveillance”, for its part, remains a bit nebulous. Can you leave a three-year-old child in the car if he is watched by his ten-year-old brother or sister? In Quebec, unlike other Canadian provinces, there is no minimum age set by law for a child to look after himself. In the same vein, there is no minimum age for a child to babysit other children, but it is established that between ten and twelve, depending on his maturity, the child would beresponsible enough to guard herself and the younger ones.
In short, one could come to the conclusion that it is not a crime to leave a child under the age of seven in the car, provided that his brother or sister aged 10 and over accompanies.
At the gas station
And if you only get out of the car for a minute: to pay for gas, for example? Is your child still considered to be under your supervision? The law again lacks clarity in this regard. That said, it would be surprising if a parent were given a ticket for a similar situation. However, it is always recommended to bring the child down with you. A few minutes are enough for an unfortunate accident to occur. The unattended child could choke while eating, or even get their fingers or head stuck in the window. From the age of three, the little ones manage to detach themselves and get off their bench without the help of an adult. They could take the opportunity to play with the controls of the car, or go out to join you. Not to mention the risks that a stranger will take advantage of your temporary absence to leave with your car and your child… It's already happened!
Baby is sleeping
Of course, as a parent, we know that this directive can be a bit restrictive: especially when baby has fallen asleep. Indeed, no one wants to wake up a child who is (finally!) taking a nap for a race that does notwill only take a minute. Fortunately, there are ways not to interfere with baby's sleep, while respecting the law: by paying at the pump, for example! In addition, there are more and more businesses that offer drive-thru service. The restaurants, of course; but some banks have also installed outside ATMs, and there are more and more pharmacies offering drive-thru!
Hard to imagine, but every year there are many people who forget their child in their car. Fatigue, change of routine: a parent forgets that it is their turn to drop off the child at daycare on the way to work and forgets him, asleep, in his seat. No one is safe from this nightmare. However, a simple oversight in during a heat wave or intense cold could prove fatal for the child. In summer, even if the ambient temperature is comfortable, even cool, that of the passenger compartment of a vehicle rises very, very quickly. In summer, the temperature inside a car can easily rise to 50°C, and leaving the windows a little open is not enough to reduce the temperature inside the car. Thus, when it is 26°C, the temperature in a car reaches 50°C in one hour; this temperature is reached in just twenty minutes when the mercury rises to 35°C, as is often the case during summer heat waves. This is why you should never leave your child alone in the car. For various reasons, the races which do notshould only take you a few minutes can ultimately take several, as this shock advertisement demonstrates:
To prevent these oversights which could have unfortunate consequences, always place your cell phone, purse or any other object you will need during the day in the back seat. Not only will you put potential distractions away from your hands, but you will ensure that at your destination you will see your child by retrieving your items. If you install the child's car seat behind the front passenger's, you'll also have a better chance of seeing them when you get out. Try to get into the habit of always opening the back door before you leave your car. You could also ask the daycare educator to call you if your child is not at daycare at the usual time.
A few numbers
You think that never happens? That these warnings are superfluous? These few figures prove the opposite!In France, between June 2007 and August 2009, 26 incidents were reported: 11 of them were caused by an unfortunate oversight. In the other cases, the children were deliberately left alone in the car.
But the prize for neglect goes to our neighbors to the south: between 1998 and 2014, 637 deaths of children left alone in cars were recorded in the United States, including 31 last year, and 44 in 2013. 53% of these deaths were caused byforgotten!
In Quebec, since 2009, 82 tickets have been issued to drivers who forgot or intentionally left their children under the age of seven alone in the car.