WASHINGTON D.C. — As Americans travel for the Fourth of July weekend and try to get back to their normal routines, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is warning parents not to forget their kids in hot cars.
In 2019, 52 kids died after being left in hot cars, but DOT is hoping a $3 million public service effort helps save lives in 2020 and beyond.
“We want to make sure in all of this the children are not forgotten,” said Elaine Chao, secretary of DOT.
Chao says these days there’s an even greater risk for caretakers to forget kids in cars since the pandemic upended usual routines.
“Having children locked and forgotten in heated cars is such a preventable tragedy,” she said.
On Capitol Hill, some lawmakers, including Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky, are trying to pass a bill called the Hot Cars Act.
“It is our duty to say that when we can protect children from dying in hot cars that we have to do it,” Schakowsky said.
The Hot Cars Act would require most new cars to come with an alert system to detect a child or animal that gets left in the back seat.
“We want a passive system where the parent doesn’t have to do anything but there is a detection of the child in the car and then a notification to the parent,” Schakowsky said.
The DOT says it doesn’t comment on pending legislation, but Schakowsky is optimistic the bill can pass the House.
“The legislation even gives a good deal of time to implement this, but really we’re running out of time,” she said.
The Hot Cars Act is co-sponsored by 55 democrats and two republicans.