79ºF

As hottest part of summer arrives, a reminder about the danger of hot cars

Bill working through Congress could help prevent hot car deaths

DANVILLE, Va. – An infrared thermometer shows that even when the air temperature is only in the 70s, the temperature inside a car can be deadly.

"A few years ago, there was an incident at one of our shopping centers that resulted in a fatality and some serious injuries. That's kind of what spurred this," Danville Police Department Cpl. Tim Scearce said, explaining the origin of the department's hot car awareness campaign.

Scearce coordinates the campaign.

During the summer, a patrol car is placed at businesses.

A poster warning people that leaving a child or a pet in a hot car can lead to cruelty charges is posted inside the car's windshield.

"The last couple of years, we relied heavily on shopping centers for display. This year, to kind of branch out a little bit, we thought we'd coordinate with some of our local car dealers," Scearce said.

The dealerships have been very receptive.

"It's been an overwhelming response," Scearce said. "As a matter of fact, I had one dealership who said, 'I was wondering when our turn was coming. I appreciate you guys stopping by.'" 

As of Thursday, the car was at its fourth different dealership and will be at a few more before summer's over.

According to the national organization Kids and Cars, as of Monday, 28 kids have died in 2018 in hot cars across America.

The report said that's more than there has ever been by July 22 in any year, meaning the 2018 is on track to be the deadliest year ever.

"The worst part about it is, these are predictable and preventable tragedies," Kids and Cars director Amber Rollins said.

She said the organization has submitted a bill to Congress to require cars to have technology that she believes can help prevent hot car deaths.

"You can't lock your key fob in your car anymore, the car won't let you. It can tell that it's in there. So why don't we have something that would prevent us from locking our babies in there," Rollins explained.

As of Thursday, the bill had passed in the House of Representatives and had been passed by a committee in the Senate and was awaiting a potential vote by the full Senate.

Rollins said she didn't know when that vote might happen.