For Immediate Release:
July 1, 2020

Amber Rollins, 913-205-6973, [email protected]
Janette Fennell, 415-336-9279,  [email protected]
Victim Families & Push for Technology to Stop Hot Car Tragedies on National Heatstroke Prevention Day

After more than 20 years of public education, children are dying at record-breaking rates
Today, on  National Heatstroke Prevention Day , more than 90 family members who have experienced the death or injury of a child in a hot car sent a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Elaine Chao, urging federal action on a safety standard requiring that every new car be equipped with currently available technology that can detect a child trapped inside a hot car.

At a USDOT press event scheduled for today, the views of the auto industry will be heard but not the voices of the victims' families because none were invited to participate.

While the auto industry attempts to claim victory by saying they will “voluntarily” add outdated and ineffective technology to vehicles, victim families are calling attention to the major mistakes and missteps with this approach.

There is no way to enforce an industry "voluntary agreement" and no minimum performance requirements will be issued to ensure the safety and effectiveness of systems used. Automakers have a long history of promising action on safety features but then failing to deliver. For example, in 2001  GM made a commitment at a national press conference to include “detection technology” in their vehicles by 2004 to prevent hot car deaths. Nearly 20 years later GM still does not have child detection technology in its vehicles.

Furthermore, the auto industry's voluntary agreement is inadequate. It would not address the more than one-fourth of hot car deaths where children gain access to vehicles on their own. In order for a system to be effective and comprehensive, the system must be able to ‘detect’ the presence of a child, not just ‘infer’ that there ‘might’ be one.

A safety standard issued by the USDOT is needed requiring effective technology in every new car and not a promise from some in the industry to try to do better.  The Hot Cars Act (H.R. 3593) requires the USDOT to issue a safety standard within two years that would require new vehicles to be equipped with technology that both detects the presence of an occupant in a vehicle and provides a warning to individuals inside and outside of the vehicle about the presence of the occupant.

The technology called for in the bill is readily available and affordable ( examples here ).

“The only thing more tragic than a child or animal dying in a hot car is knowing that there are solutions that exist that could prevent this and they aren't being utilized. By not using available technology, we are shamefully allowing this to happen over and over again. The price of inaction is the life of children and that is simply unacceptable,” said Janette Fennell, president of

After 20 years of public education, the number of   children dying in hot cars   has gotten worse, not better. The last two years (2018 & 2019) were the worst years ever with over 100 babies and small children needlessly killed nationwide. Additionally, documented over 100 pets that died in hot cars nationwide during that same time period.  Education and public awareness are not enough.  Children will continue to die in hot cars until technological solutions that can detect the presence of a child left inside are standard in all new vehicles.

Nobody believes that a hot car tragedy is going to happen to them or their family, until it does. Already this year,  6 children  have died in hot cars. and their safety partners will be sharing posts via social media throughout the day about how child hot car deaths can be prevented with the use of technology. They are calling on the public and media outlets to join in to support this national effort. has prepared  posts, photos, and graphics  that can be shared on   Facebook Twitter , blogs, newsletters, and websites, etc. to help raise awareness about the importance of adding existing technology to vehicles to help end these predictable and preventable hot car fatalities.

Sample social media posts:
  • An occupant detection system in cars can prevent hot car deaths. #PasstheHotCarsAct #heatstrokekills
  • Technology exists to prevent hot car deaths… what are we waiting for? #PasstheHotCarsAct #lookbeforeyoulock
  • 2018 and 2019 were the deadliest years in history for child hot car deaths. #PasstheHotCarsAct #heatstrokekills
  • Cars can alert us of children trapped inside and save precious little lives. #PasstheHotCarsAct #heatstrokekills
  • See a child or animal alone in a car? Get involved! Call 911 immediately. #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock   is a national nonprofit dedicated to saving the lives of young children and pets in and around vehicles.