Commerce Leaders Introduce HOT CARS Act

May 22, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, together with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., ranking member of the Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection, today introduced the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in the Rear Seat (HOT CARS) Act of 2019. This legislation would help to prevent heat stroke-related deaths due to children being left alone in a vehicle.  

“In the past two decades, more than 800 children have died from heat stroke after being left in hot cars. Putting safeguards in place to prevent this tragedy in the future is important,” said Wicker. “Today I am pleased to be introducing the HOT CARS Act with Senators Cantwell and Blumenthal, as well as my colleagues in the House. This important legislation would lead to the installation of lifesaving technology and increased public awareness of the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles.”   

“Nothing can compare with the pain of losing a loved one to a preventable tragedy,” said Cantwell. “As we enter these summer months, the safety technology this legislation calls for can help prevent the senseless deaths that happen every year in extremely hot cars. I look forward to passing this bipartisan bill making our vehicles safer.”

“In only minutes on a hot day, a car can become a death trap for a small child. Dozens of children perish in hot cars every summer – deaths that are completely preventable with a simple sensor. We already have the basic technology to alert drivers when a child has been left in the backseat. Requiring every car to have it installed before it drives off the lot is simple, common sense,” said Blumenthal.

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.

To see the full text of the Senate bill, click here. The text of the House legislation is still being finalized and will be introduced in the coming weeks.