Senator Blumenthal announces bill to prevent child hot car deaths

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Senator Richard Blumenthal has announced a bill to prevent child hot car deaths.

According to officials, the bill, Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seat Act (HOT CARS Act), is to help prevent heatstroke deaths of children trapped in hot cars.

Officials say, the bill would require cars to come equipped with technology that will alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the car is turned off. They say this technology exists and is available in some vehicles including many GM’s 2017 and 2018 models. Officials say aftermarket produces do exist, however, lifesaving technology is not yet widely implemented.

“A simple sensor could save the lives of dozens of children killed tragically in overheated cars each year, and my bill would ensure such technology is available in every car sold in the United States. It can take mere minutes on a hot day for a car to turn into a deathtrap for a small child. This basic technology, combined with public awareness and vigilance, can help prevent these catastrophes and safe lives,” Blumenthal said.

Officials say, on average, 37 children die each year trapped in overheated cars in the United States, and more than 700 have died nationwide since 1998. They say, babies and young children are not able to regulate their body temperatures like adults. Babies and young children’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than adults, which leads to them reaching dangerous levels in just minute when left in a hot car. Officials say children have also died from heatstroke in cars when temperatures are as low as 60 degrees.

According to officials, the bill directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require cars to come equipped with technology to alert the driver once they turn off the car to check the back seat. They say the bill also asks NHTSA to study and report on options and best practices for retrofitting existing vehicles with aftermarket technology.

Officials say this similar measure was recently introduced in the House of Representatives Tim Ryan of Ohio (D), Peter King of New York (R), and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois (D). They say the Senate measure will also be cosponsored by Senator Al Franken of Minnesota (D).

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