Joint Letter to Secretary Pete Buttigieg regarding Hot Car Regulation

Dear Secretary Buttigieg:

With America facing another long hot summer, the undersigned urge the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) to take immediate action to prevent deaths and serious, lifelong injuries resulting from children who may have entered or been left unattended in motor vehicles.

Since 1990, more than 1,050 children have died in hot car incidents, including eight already this year according to data collected by Kids and Car Safety. Hundreds of companion animals die in hot cars every year.

The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted new rules for the 60 GHz spectrum band that will facilitate the use of short-range radar systems which can help to prevent the deaths or injuries of children and companion animals who have unknowingly been left in or entered vehicles. It is now time for the U.S. DOT to act. Without a requirement for an effective detection and alert system in new vehicles, children and companion animals will continue to die or be injured.

As you are aware, Congress included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58) a mandate that new passenger motor vehicles be equipped with a system to alert the operator to check rear-designated seating positions after the vehicle engine or motor is deactivated by the operator and that the final rule be issued by November of this year. It is now incumbent upon the U.S. DOT to issue a comprehensive standard that requires that the system not only alerts the driver but also detects the presence of an occupant in the entirety of the passenger compartment. These systems already are available in the U.S. marketplace and are inexpensive. Moreover, the price will go down due to economies of scale once required, similar to rearview cameras. Anything less than this type of system will result in children and companion animals continuing to be in danger and families having a false sense of security by a substandard system. The tragedy of a child or companion animal dying in a hot car is entirely preventable. Yet, auto manufacturers, with limited exceptions, are not putting technological solutions into cars as standard equipment. As temperatures begin to rise, U.S. DOT must not defer, delay or dilute this lifesaving rulemaking.

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