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Congressman Tim Ryan

Representing the 13th District of Ohio

Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Stop Hot Car Deaths

July 1, 2019
Press Release
Fifth Child in 11 Days Dies in Hot Car—16th Child This Year

Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Pete King (R-NY) introduced the HOT CARS Act (H.R. 3593) to address injuries and fatalities around the country as a result of heatstroke in vehicles. The legislation would mandate that all new vehicles be equipped with a sensor and alert system to remind drivers to check their back seat. U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced a similar companion bill in the Senate in May 2019. The legislation is supported by safety groups including KidsandCars.org and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

A record number of fifty-two children died in hot cars in 2018, and more than 800 children have died in hot cars since 1998. In 2019 so far, at least 16 children have already died due to vehicular heat stroke.

“No child should endure the tragedy of dying while trapped in a hot vehicle. Unfortunately, even 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 Ryan.

“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.”

“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,” said Congressman King.

"No one thinks a hot car tragedy can happen to them or their family. That is why these deaths and injuries continue to happen and why technology is critical in helping to prevent these unthinkable and heartbreaking incidents," stated Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org.

“Unfortunately we have learned that public education alone cannot overcome the serious risk of children being unknowingly left in hot cars.  That is why it is so critical that vehicles be equipped with a detection and alert system so that drivers and caregivers are reminded of the presence of a child in the back seat, as the Hot Cars Act would require.  Cars already remind us headlights have been left on, keys were left in the ignition and doors are ajar.  This vital system will save the lives of some of our most vulnerable passengers.  We commend Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Peter King (R-NY) for their leadership and urge Congress to advance this legislation as we are in the midst of the hottest months of the year,” said Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.