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Hot Car Act aims to use tech to prevent child car deaths

Posted at 4:42 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 19:54:25-04

A bill, known as the Hot Car Act, that aims to require new vehicles to have occupant-detecting technology was re-introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday.

With temperatures nationwide and in the Valley heating up, car safety advocates are once again drawing attention to the issue of hot car deaths in the United States.

Cathy Chase, the President of Advocates for Highways and Auto Safety, stated in a virtual press conference with that the problem of children getting into a car without anyone knowing is preventable.

Representatives Tim Ryan (D) of Ohio and Jan Schakowsky (D) of Illinois are co-sponsoring the bill.

“We want to make sure that these cars are made as safe as possible and now we just have to make sure that it is enacted,” Rep. Schakowsky said.

The goal is to require all new vehicles be equipped with existing technology that would detect the presence of an occupant inside the vehicle when the engine is off, alerting the driver.

"We know that there is technology there and that is the answer to we can end these deaths and injuries," said CEO and Founder of Janette Fennell.

According to, nearly 1,000 children have died in hot cars since 1990, of which 46 occurred in Arizona.

One of the children that tragically died was three-year-old Charlotte "Charly" Jones of Gilbert.

In September of 2019, she was accidentally left in the back of her family's pickup truck for a few hours. Temperatures that day were above 100 degrees.

Angela Jones, Charly's mother, spoke publicly about the ordeal for the first time.

“I can tell you that every day is a struggle. It’s been a really difficult road. Never in a million years did I think that this would happen to us and this would be our lives," Angela said. "In order to cope, we just try to keep Charly’s memory alive. We talk about her every day.”

She tells other parents that this can happen to anyone and hopes elected officials push it through Congress for President Biden to sign into law.

“If I can help one person change the way they view this kind of tragedy then I’ve done something and I’ve helped someone and possibly helped save the life of another child,” Angela stated. “It needs to be passed so that this doesn’t happen to other families.”

A similar bill was introduced to Congress in 2019, making it through the House of Representatives as part of the "Moving Forward Act," but died in the Senate.