BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The summer months come with warm temperatures and that can pose a deadly risk for children.
The number of children dying in hot cars is the highest its been in nearly a decade.
Amy Yensi reports new legislation is aiming to prevent more tragedies. Supporters say the Senate bill would address the issue on the most fundamental level, by changing how cars are built.
Two-year-old Leasia Carter was left inside a scorching hot car parked on a Baltimore street for nearly 16 hours in June 2015. Her father, Wilbert Carter, was convicted in her death in December.
Miles and Carol Harrison are grieving for their adopted son, Chase. It was a 90 degree day in July 2008 when Miles forgot to drop off the 21-month-old at daycare, leaving him in the back seat while he went to work.
“And it’s heartbreaking because I did it, I killed my son,” Miles says.
These tragic cases are among more than 700 heatstroke fatalities of children left in cars since 1998, an average of 37 each year.
That’s why Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal introduced legislation that would require car makers to install sensor technology alerting drivers to a baby left in a car seat.
Jackie Gillan is the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. She says child reminder systems should be a standard feature in new cars.
“We should have a reminder for our most precious cargo, our children,” she says.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says the proposed mandate would miss the car buyers who need it most “because so few parents of young children buy new cars.”
Federal law requires young children to sit in the rear seat. It’s considered the safest place for them. Some say that may also put them at a higher risk to be left in the car.
“That’s why we need this complimentary system,” Gillan says. “We don’t want to move children to the front seat.”
The House of Representatives is considering its own, similar bill.