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Pallone Calls for Lifesaving Automotive Updates to Prevent Children from Dying from Heatstroke

August 29, 2019
Press Release

Edison, NJ – Today at JFK Medical Center, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) called for updates to automobiles that will prevent heatstroke deaths. Since 1990, more than 900 children have died from heatstroke in hot cars. Thirty-six children have already died this year. Pallone was joined by safety advocates, local law enforcement, members of the medical community, and companies that have developed safety technology.

“No child should lose their life from being trapped in a hot car. Technologies exist today that can end these senseless tragedies by alerting drivers to the presence of a child in their vehicle or reminding them to check the backseat before leaving their car.  Regrettably, these sorts of technologies have not been widely deployed,” Congressman Pallone said. “It’s past time for carmakers to install these lifesaving technologies so that no more children lose their lives in hot cars.”

The press conference was followed by automobile technology demonstrations from IEE Sensing and Hyundai. IEE offers retrofitted technology known as VitaSense, a system that detects children left in vehicles and provides this information to the vehicle’s warning systems.  Hyundai’s Rear Occupant Alert system detects if a rear door was opened or closed prior to starting the car and reminds the driver through a message in the gauge cluster to check the rear seats for anything that shouldn't be left behind. These are examples of technology that can be used to save lives.

Last month, a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Pallone is the Chairman, held a hearing on the Hot Cars Act, which would require vehicles to be equipped with safety technologies to detect and alert a driver to the presence of a child or occupant in the rear seat after the engine is shut off. Technologies that alert drivers to check their backseats for children exist today but have not been widely deployed.

“We must take concrete action to prevent children from dying of heatstroke in hot cars. I applaud Congressman Pallone’s efforts to pass meaningful legislation that will save children’s lives. As Sheriff, I’ll continue my work in the community to increase knowledge and awareness about the dangers of hot cars,” said Middlesex County Sheriff Mildred S. Scott.

“As we head into the Labor Day weekend, children are starting back to school and new family routines will emerge.  At times of transition as well as when parents are stressed or overly tired, even the most loving, caring and responsible caregivers can forget that a child is in the back seat of a car.  It is essential that Congress enacts the Hot Cars Act which requires a detection and alert system to prevent the heartbreaking problem of children dying in hot cars.  Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety commends House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. for his leadership to advance this legislation and prevent these unthinkable tragedies,” said Cathy Chase president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

"Compounding the utter devastation of children dying in hot cars is the fact that technological solutions are readily available. Yet, automakers who are very aware of these deaths are not including these lifesaving systems in every new vehicle. It is incomprehensible. These detection and alert systems are a lifeline for small children who cannot protect themselves," said Janette Fennell founder and president of KidsAndCars.org.

 

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