Ombudsman Alert: BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO STOP HOT CAR DEATHS

BY DR. LOUIS ALPERT

Ombudsman

Earlier this year, Ombudsman Alert announced the critical problems suffered by children  left unattended in vehicles who often  were victims of heatstroke. This   Ombudsman is most pleased to now announce  that Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chairwoman of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee has joined with representatives Tim Ryan(D-OH) and Pete King(R-NY) to introduce the Hot Cars Act(H.R. 3593) to address injuries and fatalities around  the country as a result of heatstroke in vehicles

The legislation would mandate that all new vehicles be equipped with a sensor and alert system ro remind drivers to check their back seat, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal(D-CT) and Roger Wicker(R-MS) introduced a similar companion bill in the Senate in May 2019. The legislation is supported by safety groups including KidsandCars.org and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; a group  which this Ombudsman has worked with for several years.

Unfortunately, a record number of 52 children died in hot cars in 2018 and more than 800 children have died in hot cars since 1998, In 2019 so far, at least 16 children have already died due to vehicular heat stroke! In the vast majority of those cases, the adult did not realize the child was inside the car. It’s not enough to educate parents about the risks.

“Even the most attentive parent can get distracted, so we need safety features built into our vehicles,” Congresswoman Schakowsky said. “A simple alert can save lives, You get a warning if you leave keys in the car. You ought to get a warning if you leave a child in the car. As Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, making cars and roads safer is a top priority, And it starts with this bill.”

Our New York congressman Peter King submitted the following statement:

“i am proud to work with Reps Ryan and Schakowsky on the HOT CARS legislation. The belief is that it can’t happen to you, always someone else. Unfortunately, it happens over and over again, even to the most conscientious parents. Technology is available and can be placed in new vehicles to protect innocent children. It’s really that simple.”

Finally, OMBUDSMAN ALERT quotes Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, with whom I have worked for several years on the most critical auto and highway safety issues:

“Unfortunately we have learned that public education alone cannot overcome the serious risk of children unknowingly left in hot cars. That is why it is so critical that vehicles be equipped with a detection and alert system so that drivers and caregivers are reminded of the presence of a child in the back seat, as the Hot Cars Act would require.. This vital system will save the lives of our most vulnerable passengers.”

OMBUDSMAN ALERT urges all of our federal representatives,including our own congresswoman Nita Lowey, to strongly support this life-saving legislation. Please address all cmments and questions to: editor@rocklandcountytimes.com