Children and pets can die in hot cars faster than many people realize. It can take a matter of minutes for a car to increase in temperature to the point that it poses heatstroke risk to its occupants. It’s also important to know that the day doesn’t have to be very hot; some children have died in cars on days where the temperature is in the low 80s.
And despite education and announcements about the dangers, the number of deaths are on the increase. Statistics were just released showing 2018 surpassed the previous record set in 2010 of 49 deaths across the United States. There were 51 in 2018.
Most deaths are caused when parents or caregivers forget their baby is sleeping in the back of the car. They leave the child inside and remember after it is too late, and the child has succumbed to vehicular heatstroke. There have been more than 900 child deaths over the past two decades.
Car companies are working to change this. This year, General Motors is installing a rear-seat-reminder system in all its new models. Nissan made a rear-door alert standard in all its 2017 and newer models. Tesla is launching a new “dog mode” in its cars, which will regulate cabin temperature and keep the cab from overheating. It will alert owners on an app if the battery decreases less than 20%.
While most states face these types of deaths in the hot summer months, Arizona drivers have to be careful all year round. Cars can increase in temperature when sitting in the sun even if the weather seems cool outside. And while there are no Arizona laws regulating how old a child must be to be left in a car alone, you will face a Class 6 felony if the circumstances are likely to cause injury or death. So, if your child is not old enough to unbuckle himself, open the door, and safely and responsibly come find you if it’s too hot, he’s not old enough to be left alone.