WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, Richard Blumenthal and Maria Cantwell joined U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Tim Ryan and Pete King to announce legislation, the HOT CARS Act, to address injuries and fatalities around the country as a result of hot interiors in vehicles. The legislation would mandate that all new vehicles be equipped with an alert system to remind drivers to check their back seat. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky today chaired an Energy Commerce Subcommittee hearing on summer driving dangers and safety issues.
“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 Senator 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.”
“48 children died of heat stroke in cars last year. In the vast majority of those cases, the adult did not realize the child was inside the car. It’s not enough to educate parents about the risks. Even the most attentive parent can get distracted, so we need safety features built into our vehicles,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “A simple alert can save lives. You get a warning when you leave keys in the car. You should get a warning if you leave a child in the car. As Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, making cars and roads safer is a top priority. And it starts with this bill.”
“No child should endure the tragedy of dying while trapped in a hot vehicle. The unfortunate reality is that even good, loving and attentive parents can get distracted. Studies have shown that this can happen to anyone, anywhere. That is why I am proud to work with Representatives Schakowsky and King on this important legislation. Our cars can already alert drivers when they leave their keys in the car, their lights on, or their trunk open – none of which are life threatening. It is not unusual for the government to mandate safety features to protect lives. Cars are mandated to have seat belts, interior trunk-releases, and rear backup cameras. Our legislation would move us one step closer to getting this inexpensive technology in every car on the road to help save the lives of children nationwide,” said Congressman Tim Ryan.
Senator Blumenthal said, “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.”
Congressman King added, “I am proud to work with Reps. Ryan and Schakowsky on the HOT CARS legislation. The belief is that it can’t happen to you, always someone else. Unfortunately it happens over and over again, even to the most conscientious parents. Technology is available and it can be placed in new vehicles to protect innocent children. It’s really that simple.”
“Nothing can compare with the pain of losing a loved one to a preventable tragedy. 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,” added Senator Cantwell.
The text of the House legislation is being finalized and will be introduced in the coming weeks.
For more information on the Senate measure, click here.