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To avoid mistakenly leaving your child in a vehicle, follow these tips from KidsAndCars.org:
- Always open the back door when you park to make sure no one's left behind.
- Place an item you can't start your day without in the back seat, such as your cellphone or wallet.
- Ask your childcare provider to call you immediately if your child doesn't arrive on time.
- Clearly state and confirm who is getting each child out of a car.
- Always keep vehicles locked and car keys out of children's reach so that they can't get into a vehicle on their own.
- Teach your kids to honk the horn if they get stuck in a car.
More than 40 children have died in hot cars so far this year, according to the website noheatstroke.org, which tracks these fatalities. Last year, more than 50 children perished after their parents accidentally left them in hot vehicles.
Now, two major trade groups representing the majority of car manufacturers – the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of Global Automakers – say their members have committed to installing alert systems in new vehicles by 2025. The technology will help remind drivers to check the backseat for children before leaving their car.
The trade associations did not provide specifics on how the alerts would work, but said they would include audio and visual alerts that will activate after a driver turns off the car. Some carmakers, such as General Motors, already have alert systems in some of their vehicles.
Companies that have signed on to the pledge include most major U.S. and foreign automakers, including GM, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Toyota, and Volkswagen. Tesla is not part of the agreement.
The pledge comes as the House of Representatives considers legislation called the HOT CARS Act that would require automakers to install this type of technology. Automotive leaders said the new voluntary agreement will push manufacturers to install alert systems sooner than if they waited for the government to act.
Safety advocates aren't satisfied with the automakers' pledge, however. The organization Kids and Cars said installing alert technology should be mandated and enforced by the government. Regulators also need to make sure the alert systems are effective, and that they address the problem of children getting into cars on their own after a vehicle is turned off.
"We appreciate that the automotive industry is finally recognizing what we have been saying for years: auto manufacturers can and should be doing everything they can to help parents prevent the hundreds of infant deaths caused by hot cars," the organization said in a letter. "While this is a big step in the right direction, the past has shown that voluntary commitments don't necessarily result in meaningful action.”
In the meantime, you can take steps to protect children from vehicle heatstroke by never leaving them alone in cars – even for a few minutes.
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