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senate Bill S. 1601

HOT CARS Act: Should There Be a Warning System For Children Left in Cars?

Argument in favor

There should be an alert to remind drivers that there’s an unattended passenger in the backseat, just like there is for leaving your keys in the ignition or not buckling your seatbelt. This bill will save the lives of many children.

Carey's Opinion
last Saturday
But what good is an alarm if the adult isn't there to hear it?

Argument opposed

There’s no guarantee that an alert would prevent adults from leaving a child unattended in the back seat of a car that’s too hot. It’s ultimately up to those responsible for the child to ensure they’re safe from overheating.

Linda 's Opinion
last Saturday
It shouldn't be required that taxpayers be responsible for someone kids. You can't remember you have kids, then maybe you shouldn't have sex to produce them.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    IntroducedMay 22nd, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 1601?

This bill — known as the HOT CARS Act — would require the Secretary of Transportation to issue a rule within two years of the bill’s enactment that requires all new passenger vehicles to have a system to alert the operator to check rear seats if an unattended passenger remains. The alert would include a distinct auditory and visual alert that may be combined with a haptic alert, and is aimed at preventing children from being left in hot cars and facing death or injury.

The rule would be phased in once it’s finalized, with full compliance required on September 1 of the calendar year that begins two years after the final rule is issued, and would apply to all new passenger vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds.

The bill’s full title is the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act.


Children left in the back seat of a car that’s too hot and those responsible for them; car manufacturers; and the Dept. of Transportation.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1601

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced this bill to prevent children from dying of heat stroke after being left in hot cars:

“In the past two decades, more than 800 children have died from heat stroke after being left in hot cars. Putting safeguards in place to prevent this tragedy in the future is important. Today I am pleased to be introducing the HOT CARS Act with Senators Cantwell and Blemnethal, as well as my colleagues in the House. This important legislation would lead to the installation of lifesaving technology and increased public awareness of the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles.”

Original cosponsor Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) added:

“In only minutes on a hot day, a car can become a death trap for a small child. Dozens of children perish in hot cars every summer — deaths that are completely preventable with a simple sensor. We already have the basic technology to alert drivers when a child has been left in the backseat. Requiring every car to have it installed before it drives off the lot is simple, common sense.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), also an original cosponsor of this bill, said:

“Nothing can compare with the pain of losing a loved one to a preventable tragedy. As we enter these summer months, the sfaety technology this legislation calls for can help prevent the senseless deaths that happen every year in extremely hot cars. I look forward to passing this bipartisan bill making our vehicles safer.”

This legislation passed the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed on a voice vote (with a dissent from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)) and has the support of two Democratic cosponsors. It also has the support of Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, which notes that a record number of 52 children died in hot cars in 2018, adding to a death toll of more than 900 children since 1990.


Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force - W.C. Pope / Public Domain)


Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to direct the Secretary of Transportation to issue a rule requiring all new passenger motor vehicles to be equipped with a child safety alert system, and for other purposes.