Senator Calls for Legislature to Prevent Hot Car Deaths

A Connecticut lawmaker is trying to make it so that all vehicles can alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the car is turned off.

This year, at least 17 children have died nationwide from being left in a hot car.

Senator Richard Blumenthal wants to change that number to zero.

He plans to introduce the HOT CARS ACT, which stands for ‘Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in the Rear Seat.’

“The HOT CARS ACT will require cars to be equipped with sensors that alert parents when they are leaving a child in the back seat. And I predict that these sensors on cars will be as common as seat belts,” Blumenthal said.

If a child is still in the car when the engine has turned off, that’s when the sensor would alert the driver. While the details of how they’d be alerted are unknown at this time, parent of two little girls, Sara Vollaro, of Hebron, thinks automakers could look at a sensor connected to car seats.

"Maybe there’s some sort of sensor within the car seat system. They click when we have to click our car seats in now – (like) if it knows you have a car seat then it will know to check it,” Vollaro said.

On July 7, 2014, 15-month-old Benjamin Seitz, of Ridgefield, lost his life when he was accidentally left inside a car by his father.

Now sensors are sold as aftermarket devices and they are equipped in some car models.

Kevin Borrup, associate director of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, said he welcomes any lifesaving technology because accidents do happen.

"It can be difficult to see if a child is in the back seat, especially infants. The American academy of pediatrics recommends that a child be rear facing until the age of two, so it’s understandable that a child that young and you’re driving, they may fall asleep and not make a sound and it’s very difficult to see from the front of the car whether that rear facing seat is occupied,” Borrup said.

Blumenthal said there may be grandchildren or other people’s children that get in the car. He said if the device is made into a standard in the auto industry, the cost will be fairly inexpensive. The actual cost is unknown at this time.

Contact Us