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Legislation Addresses Hot Cars That Kill Kids

Posted on August 22, 2017

It is that time of year again and you’ve heard this story before.

On average, 37 children die every year in hot cars after the driver walks away. The caregiver was distracted or out of his usual routine leaving the little helpless baby strapped into the back seat of the car.

It is amazing, but it does happen, to all kinds of people, regardless of their education and socio-economic status.

The consumer group which monitors such things, Kids and Cars, reports more than 30 children have died in hot cars so far this year.

The two most recent cases happened just last weekend in two separate incidents in Arizona.

We’ve reported on the suggestions — put your purse in the back seat so you remember the child, put a stuffed animal in the front seat so you have a visual reminder. Have the caregiver call when the child doesn’t arrive as planned.

If those things were foolproof, we wouldn’t be discussing the next step.

A group of lawmakers has created The Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seat Act (HOT CARS Act). It directs the government to require cars come equipped with dummy proof technology that will alert the driver to a passenger in the back seat when he turns off the ignition.

Parents who have lost children due to vehicular heatstroke joined in supporting the announcement.

Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Al Franken of Minnesota introduced the act, similar to one previously introduced in the U.S. House, requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mandate that automobiles come equipped with the technology — such as a sensor flashing a warning alert on the console and a tone.

So far, General Motors has introduced the feature in some 2017 and 2018 models.

The lawmakers are pushing for this equipment to be standard in all vehicles. The question then remains how to retrofit older vehicles without such systems.

Since 1990, when Kids and Cars began keeping records, an unbelievable 800 children have died from heatstroke after being left unattended in a vehicle. Even with moderate temperatures it can take just a few minutes for temperatures to kill.

The non-profit group says most of the circumstances are purely accidents when an adult caregiver just forgets the child, usually due to a disruption in their routine.

In about half of the cases, the adult is charged criminally, mothers more often than fathers, according to Kids and Cars. Rarely are they found guilty of intentionally harming the child.