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Families, group call for action following hot car deaths

Wednesday is Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention Day
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Posted at 10:05 AM, Jun 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-08 12:00:32-04

Grieving families are calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to address the problem of children dying in hot vehicles.

Wednesday marks National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention and Awareness Day.

Ten children have died in Indiana, between 1997 and 2013, as a result of heatstroke in a car, according to the nonprofit child safety organization KidsAndCars.org. 

Joshua Stryzinski was sentenced to 20 years of probation after leaving his four month old daughter in a hot car in Greenfield in July 2012.

FROM 2012 | Infant Dies After Being Left In Hot Car; Father Arrested

The little girl died at the hospital.

On average, every nine days an innocent young child dies due to heatstroke in a vehicle, according to KidsAndCars.org. 

In their letter to the DOT and NHTSA, grieving families insist on technology to help prevent parents and caregivers from unknowingly leaving children alone in.

Parents and KidsAndCars.org argue federal officials are not giving the issue serious attention.

"The worst thing any parent or caregiver can do is think that this could never happen to them or that they are not capable of unknowingly leaving their child behind," says Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org.

Joan Claybrook, former NHTSA administrator also called on Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to require a safety standard that includes technology that alerts the driver if a child is inadvertently left behind.

"Other lifesaving technologies to save children are now standard equipment on all vehicles. Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH), trunk releases, rear view cameras in 2018, and safer power window switches are great examples where a deadly problem existed and a cost-effective solution was required by the government to make vehicles safer for children; and these advancements have saved countless lives," said Claybrook.

The group encourages bystanders to call 911 immediately if the child seems to be in danger, and break the window furthest away from the child to rescue them.

KidsAndCars.org offers a seatbelt cutter and window breaker that fits on your keychain. The spring-loaded device is tapped on the corner of a car window and the glass is shattered.

Through the "Look Before You Lock" educational campaign, KidsAndCars.org has distributed more than 750,000 safety information cards to birthing hospitals nationwide.

The Department of Transportation had the following statement:

NHTSA takes this issue very seriously and is committed to stopping all heat stroke fatalities, and we launched our first annual public campaign to accomplish just this in 2012. You may find of particular interest this 2015 NHTSA report addressing the functional assessment of unattended child reminder systems.

For more resources, you can check out our “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.” campaign website.