CHARLOTTE, N.C. (JUNE 8, 2017) – Yesterday, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Peter King (R-NY) introduced the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act (HOT CARS Act of 2017). The legislation aims to prevent children from being injured or killed when left alone in a vehicle. AAA Carolinas supports this legislation, and advises that parents never leave a child alone in a vehicle, even if the vehicle is parked in the shade or has open, cracked or tinted windows.
"We urge parents to remember that even on an overcast day, the temperature inside a vehicle can quickly rise," said AAA Carolinas President and CEO Dave Parsons. "These deaths are completely preventable, please look before you lock."
The legislation would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a final rule requiring cars to be equipped with a system to remind a driver someone is still in the backseat after the car is turned off.
The statistics surrounding children who've died from heatstroke are staggering. Kids and Cars reports that 39 children passed away from vehicular heatstroke in 2016. According to data compiled by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1998 to 2014, 636 children died from heatstroke. Of the 636 deaths:
- 53 percent: Child "forgotten" by caregiver (336 children)
- 29 percent: Child playing in unattended vehicle (186 children)
- 186 children (29 percent) were playing in an unattended vehicle
- 17 percent: Child intentionally left in vehicle by adult (110 children)
- 1 percent: Unknown cases (4 children)
Tips for parents to prevent a tragedy:
- Avoid heatstroke by never leaving your child unattended in your vehicle, even for a minute.
- Create reminders and habits that give you a safety net. For example: leave an item you need at your next stop in the back seat so you don't forget about your loved one.
- If you see an unattended child in a vehicle, call 911 and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.
- Lock your car at all times — even in your garage or driveway — so young kids can't climb into the vehicle without your knowledge.
- Discuss hot-car safety with everyone who drives your child, including partners, grandparents and babysitters.
- Don't drive distracted. More than half of heatstroke deaths occurred when a distracted caregiver forgot a quiet child was in the vehicle.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.