WASHINGTON - Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) plans to introduce a bill to help prevent children from being trapped in hot cars.
The Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seat Act (HOT CARS Act) would require newly manufactured cars to come equipped with technology to alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the car is turned off. The technology is already available in some vehicles, including General Motors' 2017 and 2018 models. It is not yet standard on a large scale.
The Rear Seat Reminder, developed by General Motors, gives busy parents an alert to check for children in the backseat. The system activates when a rear door is open and closed up to ten minutes before a car is started or running, chiming five times, and alerting the driver with a "Rear Seat Reminder" icon. Lupient Buick GMC demonstrated new technology inside a 2017 Acadia SUV and said the technology will roll out in more GM vehicles in 2018.
So far this year, 18 children have died of heatstroke suffered from being left in a vehicle. Since 1998, 718 kids have suffered the same fate, according to a site that tracks the data.
"Each summer, we hear heart-wrenching stories about children whose lives end far too early because they were accidentally trapped in the backseat of a hot car," Franken said in a news release. "We can do something to prevent these terrible tragedies. This commonsense legislation would make sure that there are measures in place to alert you if your child is left in the back seat. I want to see this life-saving technology become the standard in our cars."
Franken, along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), plans to introduce the bill which also directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to study options and best practices for retrofitting existing vehicles with the technology.
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