No child left behind: Bill requires alert devices for kids left in cars

By Alberto Pimienta and Christie Zizo, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017, 4:20 PM EDT

Fourteen children across the country have died since July 1 because they were left in a vehicle on a hot day.

Lawmakers in Washington are now working to compel automakers to install devices to prevent these kinds of deaths.

“It sounds hard to believe but we’ve had any number of cases where parents for whichever reason forgot the child was in the back,” said Rep. Peter King, R-New York.

So far this year, 32 children have died inside hot cars. That's according to the organization No Heat Stroke, which tracks these tragedies. 

The group found that in 54 percent of the cases, adults said they forgot the child was in the vehicle, with nearly half not dropped off at a child care service. 

Five of those deaths happened in Florida, including Myles Hill, a 3-year-old found dead inside a day care van on Monday.

Florida has seen 77 such deaths since 1998 -- second only to Texas.

The inside of a car can get extremely hot. While it is 85 degrees outside, inside the car, in 5 minutes it can reach 100 degrees.

In 20 minutes, 115 degrees. In an hour, an incredible 135 degrees. 

There’s urgency on Capitol Hill. Rep. King is co-sponsoring the Hot Cars Act.

It's a bipartisan bill that's also co-sponsored by Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

“We would be directing the Transportation Secretary to enact a rule requiring auto manufacturers to include these devices in the car," King said. "Which would set off a signal if anyone is left in the car.”

General Motors already includes technology that reminds parents a child is left behind.

But King says other carmakers must follow suit.

“The auto manufacturers always resist," King said. "I was involved several years ago in having cameras and warning systems to be put on the back to alert drivers if somebody was in an area behind the car.” 

The Congressman said lawmakers will not be deterred. Just like with rear cameras, he says it will take a couple of years, but in the near future, a majority of vehicles will have the technology.