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Technology Could Help Prevent Hot Car Deaths

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Today U.S. Representatives from Ohio, New York and Illinois introduced the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act (HOT CARS Act of 2016, H.R. 6041), a critical piece of legislation that would prevent children from being needlessly killed and injured when left alone in vehicles. The HOT CARS Act would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a final rule within two years for a reminder system to alert the driver if a child is left unattended in a vehicle. “Every year, dozens of children die when left in vehicles – one child every nine days,” said Rep. Schakowsky (IL). “These are horrible, preventable tragedies. The technology exists to prevent these deaths. You get a warning if you forget your keys in the ignition. You should get a warning if you forget your child in the back seat. The HOT CARS Act calls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require that new vehicles alert drivers when there’s an unattended passenger. We must act quickly before more children die.” Miles Harrison, whose 21-month old son Chase died after being unknowingly left in a car, said, “If there had been a simple chime to alert me of my son’s presence, none of this would have happened.  How can this be, that in our great country it is not mandatory that the simplest alarm not be required in all cars? Children are dying unnecessarily. Families are being destroyed unnecessarily.  This has got to stop.  It is so important that we pass this bill being introduced today.” Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety president Jackie Gillan stated, “This year 29 children have already died in hot cars.  I want to be very clear that this is not just a ‘seasonal’ problem.  When summer ends, the problem will not end.  These deaths are happening year round.  The HOT CARS Act takes the same approach as the law enacted by Congress in 2008 that requires rear view cameras as standard equipment in all cars by 2018.  This is a very reasonable and effective way to stop preventable, unnecessary injuries and deaths.” “My heart breaks when I think of the 37 children whose lives are cut short each year because they were trapped in a hot vehicle. The unfortunate reality is that even good, loving parents can get distracted. Studies have shown that this can happen to anyone, anywhere. That is why I am proud to have Representatives King (NY) and Schakowsky (IL) join me in introducing 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. Our legislation would move us one step closer to getting this technology in every car on the road to help save lives of children nationwide,” said Rep. Ryan (OH). “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. I am proud to work with Reps. Ryan and Schakowsky on this legislation,” said Rep. King (NY). Eric Stuyvesant, whose son Michael survived after being left unknowingly in a hot car said, “Time and time again, the auto industry has used technology to ensure the safety of our nation’s citizenry. Seat belts have saved lives. Air bags have saved lives.” He added, “I am grateful to see that Congress is ensuring that the automakers take the necessary steps to save the lives of our most precious cargo. It is certainly a great day.”

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