The National Safety Council (NSC) reported that there were a record-high 52 hot car deaths last year compared to the average of 38 deaths per year. Previously, the deadliest year was over 20 years ago in 1988, when a total of 49 children died in hot cars.
“Last year, we set one of the saddest records in U.S. roadway safety history,” Nick Smith, interim president and CEO of the NSC, said in a statement. To keep kids safe as summer approaches, the NSC has released a free online course, “Children in Hot Cars,” which educates parents about the circumstances that can lead to hot car deaths and how they can prevent them from happening.
The organization warns parents that tragedies can occur anytime a kid is left in the car, even on cloudy days or with the window cracked. “There is no safe time to leave a child in a vehicle, even if you are just running a quick errand,” the NSC’s website reads.
Last year’s shocking statistic has also inspired the Hot Cars Act, a proposal by KidsAnd Cars.org that would require automakers to install technology in vehicles alerting parents that they’re leaving their kids in the car when they go to get out.
“A system warning drivers to remember vulnerable back seat passengers is a commonsense solution to these heartbreaking deaths,” Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org, explained in a news release. “Installing this technology brings us another step closer to solving this deadly problem once and for all.”