Look before you lock: Parents, lawmakers push to prevent hot-car deaths

Washington D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — More than 50 children died last year because they were accidentally left by their parents or caregivers in a hot vehicle.

It’s called vehicular heatstroke and Wednesday on Capitol Hill, lawmakers, safety advocates, first responders and families who have lost loved ones in hot-car incidents vowed to work to prevent more senseless deaths.

“I still have not forgiven myself and don’t know if I have the capacity to do so,” said Miles Harrison of Purcellville, Virginia.

Alongside his wife, Harrison talked about the shame and guilt associated with his fatal mistake. Eleven years ago, he went to work thinking he had dropped his son Chase off at daycare.

“I rushed to my car and as I came upon the side window, I saw Chase,” Harrison recalled.

His son had been in the backseat of his car all day.

“I killed my son, my poor sweet little boy,” Harrison added.

Last year alone, 52 children lost their lives in hot cars and nearly 900 deaths have occurred since 1990.

“Another 50+ this year unless parents do the right thing: look before you lock. That’s common sense but parents are fallible,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut.

Blumenthal says there’s technology available that could alert parents if they accidentally leave a child inside the car. His legislation, the Hot Cars Act, would require new vehicles to include technology that alerts drivers if a child is left alone in the backseat.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, believes the warning should be easy to implement.

“Think of all the bells and whistles that we have in our car. You have to have a warning when you leave your car,” she said.

Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, says as the weather starts to heat up, Congress must act.

“This is the perfect example of something Congress can act on to actually save lives,” Ryan said.

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