Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) Introduce Legislation to Reduce Hot Car Tragedies | Congressman Tim Ryan
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Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) Introduce Legislation to Reduce Hot Car Tragedies

May 12, 2021
Press Release
Legislation Would Require Safety Alerts to Prevent Leaving Children in Vehicles

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-08) today are announcing the HOT CARS Act to address injuries and fatalities around the country resulting from the hot interiors of vehicles. The legislation would mandate that all new vehicles be equipped with an alert system to remind drivers to check their back seats. 

“No child should endure the tragedy of dying while trapped inside a hot vehicle. The unfortunate reality is that even attentive parents can get distracted. Studies have shown that this can happen to anyone, anywhere. That is why I am proud to work with Representative Schakowsky on this important legislation. Our cars 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 like seat belts, interior trunk releases, and rear backup cameras to protect lives. Our legislation would move us one step closer to getting this inexpensive technology in every car on the road and will help save the lives of children nationwide,” said Congressman Ryan.

“In 2020, 24 children died of heatstroke in cars, a lower number than in past years likely because of the pandemic. In the vast majority of these deaths, 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. “Let’s save these children.  A simple alert can save lives. You get a warning when you leave keys in the car or forget to turn off your headlights. 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.”

While several alert systems have already become standard in most vehicles—backup cameras, blind-spot detection, and keyless ignition warnings—not all vehicles alert drivers of a child left in the back seat. This legislation would require the Secretary of Transportation to issue a rule requiring all new passenger motor vehicles to be equipped with a child safety alert system. This alert system would detect the presence of a child who is unable to exit a vehicle or has entered an unattended vehicle independently and engage a warning.