Thirty-seven children die every year from heat stroke after being left in hot cars.
Nine have already died this year.
A new piece of legislation called the ‘HOT CARS’ Act could change that. The acronym stands for ‘Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats.’
If passed, the legislation introduced Wednesday in Washington D.C. would require cars be equipped with technology that would alert drivers when a passenger is left in the back seat, once the car is turned off.
The feature would be similar to the beeping noise some cars make when you leave the headlights on or the keys in the car.
Florida mom Stephanie Salvilla still feels the pain and the guilt when she thinks about her baby boy.
“That’s the hard part. I thought I did my job and I didn’t. And, I didn’t even know it,” said Salvilla. “My son died, and I wasn’t aware of it.”
Her son, Gannon, was just five months old when she left him in the back seat of her car and went into work.
“I was convinced he was at daycare. I saw myself handing him over to the daycare lady,” said Salvilla.
That morning in 2009, Salvilla’s routine changed, and she believes her brain processed a false memory.
It’s something Dr. David Diamond says is very common.
“These are not bad parents. These are not parents that don’t care about their children,” said Diamond, a professor of psychology, molecular pharmacology and physiology at the University of South Florida.
“This is about the frailty, the flaws of the brain, the flaws in our memory and we need to understand it at a scientific level, and therefore, approach it with modern technology.”
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle came out Wednesday to voice their support for the ‘HOT CARS’ Act.
“There is no reason why we can’t have the technology available in cars today, that will allow a parent who is stressed out, to get a bell or a ding or a vibration. Something that’s visual or something that’s auditory that will allow you to recognize you may have a kid in your car,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.
“This is saving human lives. The fact that 37 kids die every year, and there’s such a simple remedy. It should be bipartisan, non-partisan, it should be an American legislation,” said Rep. Peter King, R-New York.
It’s a type of technology that already exists, and one that Salvilla hopes will save lives.
“In my particular case, it would’ve helped me,” said Salvilla. “It’s time to implement some type of technology into the cars. It’s worth it.”
If the ‘HOT CARS’ Act does pass, automakers will have two years from the date it is approved to come up with a plan to integrate this technology into new cars.