17 children have been killed in hot cars so far this year, Hot Cars Act introduced in US House

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KidsAndCars.org commends Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Peter King (R-NY) for introducing the Hot Cars Act (H.R. 3593), which will prevent tragic heatstroke deaths by ensuring all new cars are equipped with a system that detects and alerts to the presence of a child unknowingly left in a vehicle. A record number of fifty-two children died in hot cars in 2018, and more than 900 children have died in hot cars since 1990.

“No one thinks a hot car tragedy can happen to them or their family. That is precisely why technology is necessary. The fact that technology exists to save the lives of children, but is not being included in all new vehicles is inconceivable,” stated Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org. “I am heartbroken knowing that families are holding their precious children right now that will no longer have them by the end of summer,” she continued.

Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said, “Unfortunately we have learned that public education alone cannot overcome the serious risk of children being unknowingly left in hot cars. That is why it is so critical that vehicles be equipped with a detection and alert system so that drivers and caregivers are reminded of the presence of a child in the back seat, as the Hot Cars Act would require. Cars already remind us headlights have been left on, keys were left in the ignition and doors are ajar. This vital system will save the lives of some of our most vulnerable passengers. We commend Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Peter King (R-NY) for their leadership and urge Congress to advance this legislation as we are in the midst of the hottest months of the year.”

Equipping new cars with available technology to prevent these needless child deaths has broad support. Diverse stakeholders including public health, safety and consumer organizations, law enforcement and first responders, animal protection groups and others have all voiced support for a technological solution to this problem. In fact, in late May advocates joined lawmakers at a press conference on Capitol Hill leading up to a hearing on the issue. 

“Emergency nurses see firsthand the physical and emotional devastation caused when a child dies or is injured after being left in a hot car,” said Patti Kunz Howard, PhD, RN, CEN, CPEN, TCRN, NE-BC, FAEN, FAAN, who serves as President of the Emergency Nurses Association. “Such tragic incidents are completely preventable, but human beings are not infallible. This legislation offers such a simple solution, one that can save lives and prevent families from suffering a heartbreaking loss.”

Miles Harrison, father of Chase, who died in a hot car in 2008 in Virginia, said, “Every day I cry for Chase. I would have given my life to protect his. Knowing that a detection system and alert in my vehicle could have saved my son’s life is heartbreaking. Families are being destroyed. This has got to stop and the technology to make it stop already exists. What are we waiting for?”

As of today, at least 17 children have died already this year due to vehicular heat stroke – and the hottest days of summer still await. Now is the time to pass the Hot Cars Act (H.R. 3593) and assure that dozens of families will no longer have to experience the anguish of losing a child in these preventable incidents each year. 

The Senate introduced its version of the bill (the HOT CARS Act of 2019, S. 1601) in May, which was sponsored by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).  For more information, please visit https://www.kidsandcars.org/how-kids-get-hurt/heat-stroke/

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