May 24, 2018

Janette Fennell , President & Founder, 484-278-4641 or 415-336-9279, [email protected]
Amber Rollins , Director, 913-205-6973 or 913-732-2792, [email protected]
Eric Naing, Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, 202-408-1711 or 217-493-8294, [email protected]
Joint Statement of Janette Fennell,
President and Founder of, and
Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety On New Study Showing the Dangers of Hot Cars

With the Unofficial Start of Summer, Memorial Day, Upon Us, It is Critical that Auto Manufacturers Put Effective Warning Systems in All Cars to Prevent Needless Deaths of Children in Hot Cars
Researchers at Arizona State University and the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine have shown how a vehicle with a child left inside can quickly turn into a deathtrap. According to their study , a vehicle parked in the sun for just an hour reached an average cabin temperature of 116 degrees. Things weren’t much better for vehicles left in the shade for an hour, which hit an average interior temperature of 100 degrees. In both scenarios, dashboards, steering wheels and seats were significantly hotter than those temperatures. 

Janette Fennell responded to the release of the study, “These findings underscore the urgent need for everyone to ‘ Look Before You Lock ’ and make sure that children and other passengers aren’t left alone in a vehicle. Hot car deaths are a serious danger, having killed over 800 children since 1990. And this tragedy can happen to anyone. In most cases, loving parents who are distracted by a lack of sleep or a change in routine are the ones who unknowingly leave their child alone in a parked car.”

Cathy Chase stated, “Thankfully, this tragic problem has a solution: the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act of 2017 (HOT CARS Act, H.R. 2801/S. 1666). This bipartisan bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) to issue a final rule within two years requiring cars to be equipped with an alert system that would warn a driver about the presence of a back seat passenger when a car is turned off. In addition to several families who have lost their child or were seriously injured due to child vehicular heatstroke, this legislation also has the support of leading public health, consumer and safety organizations . Yet, auto manufacturers don’t have to wait for the enactment of this legislation -- they can decide today to put effective warning systems in all cars, just like they do for when we forget to turn off our headlights, leave our keys in the car or fail to close our doors.”

Fennell added, “We already know that education alone won’t put an end to these tragedies. We also need to use technology. A system reminding drivers to remember vulnerable back seat passengers is a commonsense solution to these heartbreaking deaths. One child dies from heat stroke every nine days in communities across the country. Rear seat passenger alerts are already available and we’re failing our children each day that this effective, proven technology isn’t included as standard equipment in every vehicle.”

Founded in 1996, is the only national nonprofit child safety organization dedicated solely to preventing injuries and deaths of children in and around vehicles. promotes awareness among parents, caregivers and the general public about the dangers to children, including backover and frontover incidents, underage driving and vehicular heatstroke. The organization works to prevent tragedies through data collection, education and public awareness, policy change and survivor advocacy.