News

Nation's Auto Safety Chief Hosts 'Listening Sessions' in Atlanta to Help Prevent Child Deaths in Hot Cars

| Washington, DC

For Immediate Release
August 15, 2011
Contact: Karen Aldana, 202-366-9550


NHTSA Administrator Strickland, Child Safety Advocates and Health Professionals Highlight Dangers of Child Deaths and Injuries from Vehicular Heat Stroke


ATLANTA -- With Georgia in the midst of one of the worst heat waves on record and reports of at least 3 child deaths from heat stroke statewide, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator (NHTSA) David Strickland hosted a public meeting on hyperthermia in his home town of Atlanta today. The "listening session" brought together area health professionals, law officers, and concerned residents to discuss strategies to prevent heat stroke deaths and injuries to young children left unattended in vehicles.

"The summer of 2011 is shaping up to be one of the hottest on record and one of the worst years for children dying of heat stroke," said Administrator Strickland. "The greatest tragedy is that child deaths and injuries from hot cars are entirely preventable — that's why we need to work together to have an immediate impact in our communities."

Children left alone in vehicles during hot weather are at risk of a serious injury or death from hyperthermia. According to NHTSA research, hyperthermia is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of fourteen. Nationwide, at least 21 children have already died from heat stroke this summer.

Reports by the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences show 49 children under the age of 14 years died in 2010 due to hyperthermia, with 21 deaths so far in 2011. Several states have witnessed especially high incidences of fatalities for children aged 3 and under — including Texas, Georgia, Florida, California, Nevada, and North Carolina.

Today's meeting comes on the heels of a first of its kind roundtable convened by NHTSA this past July and is part of a series of public listening sessions and other activities the agency is hosting in some of the states hardest hit by hyperthermia deaths. The series will engage concerned parents, advocacy groups, automotive experts, and health and law enforcement professionals to discuss the best ways to raise awareness and to propose strategies for preventing these tragic events. Other meetings are being scheduled for, North Carolina, Florida, California and Nevada.

For NHTSA research on the issue of hyperthermia, click here.

To view Department of Geosciences data, click here.

Safety tips for parents and caregivers are available at www.nhtsa.gov/KeepingKidsSafe.