Lawmakers consider tech fixes for hot-car, keyless-ignition deaths

Lawmakers and advocates are calling for new federal standards to prevent certain car-related deaths.

This year, 21 children have already died as a result of being trapped in a hot car, according to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The Hot Cars Act of 2019 would require systems that detect whether a child is inside a parked car.

Cathy Chase, president of the group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told a subcommittee Wednesday that the systems would currently cost automakers $20 to $40 per car, with that price going down if the equipment were mandated.

She added that hot car deaths are not all the result of children being left in cars: About a quarter of the deaths are the result of children getting into the cars on their own.

The Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce also heard about the dangers of keyless-ignition vehicles.

“Since 2006, more than three dozen people have died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a keyless-ignition vehicle that was inadvertently left running in a garage,” according to a committee memo.

Those victims include the father and stepmother of Susan Livingston. They accidentally left their car running in their garage in May. Livingston called the vehicle “flawed” and “a murder weapon.”

“If the car had run just 30 minutes and turned off, my parents would still be alive,” she told the subcommittee.

The Protecting Americans from the Risks of Keyless Ignition Technology (PARK IT) Act would require an automatic shutoff after a certain amount of idling. The legislation would also aim to reduce rollaway accidents from keyless-ignition vehicles mistakenly left in neutral instead of park.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up