Reminder technology to be installed in all new cars to help prevent hot car deaths

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 11:13 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - We are learning more about hot car deaths after a 2-year-old boy died earlier this week.

Experts tell us small children overheat three to five times faster than adults and can go into heat stroke inside a hot car in under an hour.

That’s why all cars built after November 2023 will now have reminder technology as a part of new legislation.

“Yesterday, around the country, there were three separate hot car deaths,” San Jose State University Adjunct Professor of Meteorology Jan Null said. “In the first ten minutes in a car, truck, SUV, and the doors are closed up, it rises 19 degrees. Let’s say on a 90 degree day, after 10 minuets, it is now at 109 degrees inside that car.”

Professor Jan Null researches hot car deaths and said children can die as quickly as one hour if they are left in a car without air.

“They could go into heat stroke when their body temperature reaches about 104,” Null said. “When a body gets to 107, that is when cells begin dying and organs shut down and death can occur fairly rapidly.”

To prevent these types of accidents, legislation now calls for all cars made after November 2023 to have reminder technology. Some newer cars already have this.

“You get to your car, you open the back door, then you close it and get in and drive some place,” Null said. “Once you park, you’ll get a reminder on your dashboard to check your back seat.”

Null said that will help, but it’s not enough because most people don’t have new cars.

“Only about 8% of cars on the road are new in any given year,” he said. “Of the new cars, only 38% of those are bought by people under 45 years of age, the age range where you would have parents.”

Null said until all cars have more child detection technology, the best thing you can do is try and remind yourself.

“Your briefcase, purse, lunch, cell phone, put those in the back seat with your child,” he said. “Giving you one more reason to open that back door.”

Null said organizations are advocating for another layer of technology to be written into the legislation. He said it is technology like radars and infrared sensors that can actually detect that a baby is in the backseat and cause a horn or notification to go off if forgotten.

Null said 38 children die each year on average from hot car deaths.

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