WASHINGTON D.C. (NEXSTAR) – More than a dozen children have died in hot cars so far this year following a record-breaking 52 deaths last year. Lawmakers believe carmakers must do something to help prevent these tragedies.
“This can happen to any family,” said Mississippi U.S. Senator Roger Wicker.
As temperatures continue to rise, so do the risks of hot car deaths.
“This is bound to happen during this heatwave,” said Wicker.
Distracted parents who accidentally leave their children in a hot car. Senator Wicker knows families back home who have made the tragic mistake.
“I had killed my son. I did it. My poor sweet little boy,” said Miles Harrison.
Earlier this summer, Miles Harrison told lawmakers how it happened to him.
Harrison’s newly adopted toddler, Chase, died of heatstroke after he forgot to drop the boy off at daycare on a 90-degree day.
Chase would have been a teenager today.
“I still have not forgiven myself and don’t know if I have the capacity to do so,” said Harrison.
Wicker’s Bill, the HOT CARS Act, would require all new vehicles to alert parents when someone is still in the back seat after they turn off the car.
The legislation failed two years ago. Some manufacturers have since built in the technology, but others continue to resist it.
The Auto Alliance, which represents the auto industry, is carefully reviewing the proposal but says the better approach is public awareness and education.
Wicker argues it would only cost about a hundred more dollars per vehicle.
“This is something that the industry can do, and it can be done relatively cost-free.”
While carmakers decide whether they’re willing, Wicker hopes to send the bill to the House by the end of the summer.
The Auto Alliance released a statement:
Motor vehicle safety is a shared responsibility among consumers, governments, auto manufacturers, child seat manufacturers, and others. Coordinated action and cooperation among all of these groups is needed to reduce such loss of life.
The Alliance is carefully reviewing the legislative proposals, including those that mandate vehicle-based approaches. However, we’ll never see a meaningful reduction in these fatalities if parents and caregivers don’t understand that there is no acceptable amount of time to leave a child alone in a parked or locked car. Public awareness and education are critically necessary components to addressing heatstroke fatalities.