Kids in hot cars: Don't assume you could never make this fatal mistake

June 05, 2019 - 6:42 am

Amber Rollins says people who believe they could never be so careless as to lock a child in hot car are wrong. Dead wrong.

A report from the National Safety Council finds 2018 was the worst year to date for children dying in hot cars in the U.S., with 52 deaths. Since 1998 nearly 800 children have died that way. 

The problem ramped up in the early 1990s, said Rollins, director of, a non-profit.

"The reason for that is children were moved to the back seat, because over-powered air bags were killing children who were riding in the front seat," Rollins said.

People who think hot car deaths are not possible with consciencious parents do not understand how the brain can be sidetracked into forgetting about the little one in the back. She recommends everyone read a Pulitzer Prize-winning article called "Fatal Distraction," that ran in the Washington Post in 2009.

We are beyond devastated to learn about the Jacksonville tragedy and sadly, we know that this won't be the last this summer. #HotCarsAct #heatstrokekills #lookbeforeyoulock

— (@KidsAndCars) May 22, 2019
On hot days, and even on moderately warm days, the interior of a car acts like a greenhouse, with the sun heating the trapped air up to 50 degrees than in the exterior. Most of the heating takes place in the first 30 minutes. New technology may be a way to prevent hot car deaths, now and in the future.

"The type of technology that we would really love to see is something that could actually sense the presence of a child," Rollins said.

Some devices can detect carbon dioxide in the car's interior, indicating the presence of someone there. Others sense motion. 

Rollins' group is advocating for a federal bill that would mandate these technologies in all new vehicles.

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