LAS VEGAS (CBS) — More than a dozen children have died so far this year in hot cars, even with Americans staying home more because of the coronavirus. Now safety advocates are pushing for new technology that can save lives. Jenny Stanley says her daughter, Sydney, “was a bundle of energy, she was the happiest child.” In the summer of 2010, the 6-year-old went next door to play with a friend, but no one was there. It’s not clear why, but on her way back home she climbed into her family car and never got out. With her parents thinking Sydney was at the neighbors, she wasn’t found until hours later. The paramedics were called. “So they loaded her in the ambulance and they came back in and told us, we’re sorry there’s nothing we can do for her. It’s too late,” Jenny recalls. A new study from KidsAndCars.org analyzed hot car deaths since 1990. The group found an average of 39 children die every year, but that number has jumped to over 50 during the past two years. Most cases happen when a parent forgets a child is in the back seat, often believing they had already dropped off their child at school or day care. But 26% of deaths are like Sydney’s when a child gets in a car on their own. Some automakers are voluntarily installing detection systems that can prevent a tragedy. But safety advocates want new laws that would require technology in all new vehicles that can detect a child in the car. KidsAndCars.org held a virtual press conference showing off some new options car companies can install, like VitaSense. It alerts parents if a child is left behind. The company says VitaSense is sensitive enough to detect the breathing of babies. 3D imaging radar from Vayyar can warn parents if a child gets into a car. It’s technology Jenny is pushing for. “If I can do anything just to prevent one family from having to go through this.” Jenny is hoping Congress will pass legislation forcing automakers to install detection systems that can help prevent another tragedy.
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