Congress Could Require Car Alarm for Kids Left Inside

Every year, children who are left inside hot cars die. These are preventable deaths. The HOT CARS Act, which would require vehicles to have an alarm that reminds parents to check the back seat for kids.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation introduced the HOT CARS Act. The full name is “Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in the Rear Seat (HOT CARS) Act of 2019.”

The purpose of the legislation is to prevent heat stroke-related deaths due to children being left alone in a vehicle. HOT CARS would lead to lifesaving technology and increased public awareness of the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles.

Highlights of the HOT CARS Act include:

Directs the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue a final rule within two years requiring new passenger vehicles to be equipped with a visual and auditory alert system to remind caregivers to check the rear seat.

Directs states to use a portion of their highway safety program funds to educate the public on the risks of leaving a child or unattended passenger in a vehicle.

Requires DOT to undertake a third-party study on retrofitting existing passenger motor vehicles

The National Safety Council reports that in 2018, 52 children died in hot cars. It was the deadliest year on record in the past 20 years. Since 1998, almost 800 children have died from vehicular heatstroke; 24% have occurred in employer parking lots while the parent or caregiver was at work. 

The Auto Alliance, the leading advocacy group for the auto industry, made a statement about the HOT CARS Act of 2019. They said they will “carefully review any new legislative proposals keeping in mind that fewer than 13% of new car buyers have a child six years old or younger.” It appears they may be hesitant to make changes if this legislation becomes law.

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