Saab Safety – something to think about?

I know that they can’t make cars totally safe for absolutely every possible circumstance, but I wonder if there’s something that could be built in that’s not onerous to the everyday driver, and that could prevent a tragedy like this?

A toddler was killed outside his home when the family car reversed over him after apparently being started by his three-year-old brother.

Iain Goodwill, aged 18 months, was crushed beneath the wheels of the Saab estate in the driveway of his home in the Scottish Highlands.

Reports suggested that his mother, a local music teacher, may have been inside the house with another of her children at the time, and had unwittingly left the key in the ignition.

In a statement read by a police officer, Helen and Mark Goodwill said: “Words can’t describe the grief and pain that we are all feeling.

“Iain was such a happy little boy who loved everything. Iain loved playing in the sand and with his brothers. He was absolutely delightful.”

The accident happened at about 4.45pm on Wednesday on the outskirts of Kiltarlity, a small village 12 miles from Inverness. A neighbour, who is a surgeon at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, tried to resusciate the toddler, but he was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Police refused to comment on reports that the toddler’s brother, Douglas, was behind the wheel. Neighbours said that Mrs Goodwill, who gives private music lessons in the Inverness area and is a founder member of the Highland Chamber Orchestra, had been outside playing with her three children but then went indoors with her six-year-old son.

After hearing the car start up, she rushed outside to find the three-year-old behind the wheel. She could not at first see Iain, but then spotted his legs underneath the vehicle. Her husband is believed to have been working in Inverness when the accident occurred.

No-one wants a ten-step process prior to ignition, but I wonder if there’s something that could be done so that even if the keys are left in it, as this poor unfortunate mother seems to have done, the car is still somehow toddler-proof?

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13 Comments

  1. It’s a tragic accident, but the root cause is leaving the keys in the car in the proximity of the kids.

    People will defeat safety systems that are too onerous. The seatbelt interlock system in the US in the early 70’s was a disaster — designed to prevent the car from starting if the seatbelts were not buckled. The outrage from that was severe enough that the regulation was pulled after a year or so.

    It’s a better use of engineering resources to prevent as many deaths in “ordinary” traffic accidents as possible (over 40,000 a year in both the US and the EU).

  2. Tragic incident indeed.
    It was obviously a manual as auto’s wont start in gear.
    So why not have a clutch pedal over ride??
    The switch is already there for cruise control cut off,so why not just take a reading off the BUS and let T7 over-ride the starter if the switch is not pressed.
    As Jeremy Clarkson has shown and as i have seen numerous times,if a car HAS to be put into reverse to get the key out,there really should be an over-ride to prevent people who are not familiar with the system from just cranking it and having the car run off backwards down the driveway.
    Always thought that this was a major over site on SAABS part especially for a company that is SO concerned with safety.

  3. put a customizable weight sensor in the driver’s seat (in order to start the car). default weight, say, 95#.

    done.

    (…terrible loss….)

  4. The 9-5, at least in the States has a clutch switch… unlike older Saabs, you must press down on the clutch to start the car (or at least in my MY02 9-5 aero)

  5. There you go then.
    They do use a clutch switch for start over-ride in the U.S ,but not in Australia,and i don’t know about the U.K
    Total bullshit how one market gets safety devices that they omit from the same car in other countries.
    Similar to the comfort open and close cuffufle
    on the 93SS that some markets were allowed to have programmed and others were not.
    Is it SAAB or G.M that controls this crap??

  6. I dont know how I would cope if I lost my daughter. My sympathies go to the family.

    The UK does not have the switch which would be the solution to the problem. I believe the switch was first introduced by Audi for the US as they had the pants sued off them by drivers who started the car in gear. I think this is why the device is only fitted in the US.

    The first thing I was taught by my dad was depress the clutch before turning the key so Saab I know you read this site, please fit this ASAP. Risk cannot be avoided but it can be controlled.

  7. Indeed, the in-direct cause of this accident is the 9-5’s design of reverse gear key lock.

    In another car where key can be pulled when the gear is in nutral this woudn’t have happened.

    Then again, the direct cause if the mother leaving the key in the ignition, poor woman. 🙁

  8. I strongly belive SAAB should install clutch switch for 9-5 in all markets. It’s a good idea!

    Once in a bluemoon when I have something on my mind I start my 9-5 in gear, fortunately the I always disengage handbrake last so that saved the car from backinginto a wall.

    In fact I feel like writing a letter to SAAB UK right now.

  9. The clutch switch is already fitted for use on Cruise Control,as it tells T7 to cut cruise when the clutch is pressed.They only need to take this switches input and use it to control the Starter earth(all of this could be achieved with ECU programming,no extra bits required.

  10. I am the father of our wee son killed in this accident.
    Firstly, thank you for your comments. I am currently pursuing all manufacturers supplying cars into the UK market to try and get them to include a safety switch so this can not happen and your comments are helpful. I had not realised that there was a switch on the clutch pedal, in additon to the brake. Or that this was a legal requirement in other markets e.g the USA.
    Finally, the keys were NOT left in the ignition. They were on a high hook in the kitchen. They are now locked in a secure key box. How many pepole do this??

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