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Bill Introduced In Washington Aims To Prevent Hot Car Deaths

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)--As we enter the height of the summer there's a new national push to prevent children from being left in hot cars.  This legislation would require cars to be equipped with technology to alert drivers that someone is in the back seat when the car is turned off.   The proposed new law was unveiled today in Washington by a group of advocates.

It's not even that hot yet and already nine children have died after being left in hot cars this year.

"I had killed my son. I did it. My poor sweet boy. God take me now," said Miles Harrison.

Harrison is describing the anguish of leaving his son in a car.  He was distracted by issues at work.

"Children are dying unnecessarily families are being destroyed unnecessarily this has to stop," said Harrison.

The Harrison family was among other advocates and politicians in Washington to introduce the HOT CARS Act of 2017.

"Education is important to make the public aware of the dangers but it must be combined with a technology solution to save the lives of children," said President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Jackie Gillian.

The legislation would require cars to be equipped with existing technology to alert drivers that a passenger remains in the  back seat when a car is turned off.  It was introduced by Representatives Tim Ryan (OH), Peter King (NY) and Jan Schakowsky (IL).

"We get into our car and there's  a bell and a whistle for just about everything we do wrong or we forget, " said Representative Ryan.

The proposed alert system is aimed at reversing a deadly trend. Since 1990, 800 children have died from heatstroke in hot cars.  That's an average of 37 a year.

"It's not enough to just educate parents about the risk even the most attentive parent can get distracted and we need and can have safety features in our vehicles a simple alert could save lives," said Representative Schakowsky.

Experts say it usually happens to caring parents and people who are stressed and distracted.

"Every loving, caring parent must realize that this disaster could happen to them," said Harrison.

The Auto Alliance, the advocacy group who represents 70% of all car and light truck sales in the United States, released this statement on the proposed legislation:

"Losing children in hot cars is a tragedy, and greater public awareness and vigilance are absolutely crucial to save young lives right now, this week. That's why automakers, as well as diverse safety groups, are conducting education and outreach campaigns. We all need to work together to avoid heatstroke deaths, so we will review the proposed legislation and provide guidance. In particular, we are concerned about proposals where it takes many years before results are seen, because nine lives have already been lost this year in hot cars. And, the proposed mandate for notification technology in cars misses the targeted population, because so few parents of young children buy new cars. Each year, less than 13% of new car buyers have a child six years old or younger. And with people keeping cars longer, its takes about two decades for a technology to reach all the passenger vehicles on our roads. Greater public awareness saves lives today."


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