Wednesday is National Heatstroke Prevention Day. The group KidsandCars.org says so far in 2019, at least 24 children have died after being left behind in hot cars. Some automakers are creating high-tech options to prevent a tragedy, while one teenager has come up with a simple solution.
Juan Rodriguez broke down in court in New York as he pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges. Police say the Iraq War veteran went to work last Friday and forgot his one-year-old twins were in the back seat. He found them nearly eight hours later.
On Monday, a two-year-old died after being left in a van outside a day care in Broward County, FL.
It's a tragedy that happens frequently. Whether it's 70 or 90 degrees outside, the temperature inside a closed car can jump more than 30 degrees in just 30 minutes.
Janette Fennell is president and founder of KidsandCars.org. She says, "Little children don't have to die this way."
Fennell points to several new vehicles with technology that reminds parents they put something in the back seat.
Fennell says, "How can we not say something that would save the life of a precious child isn't of paramount importance?"
Safety advocates are pushing Congress to pass the Hot Cars Act, which would require all carmakers to adopt similar technology.
While lawmakers consider the legislation, Hannah Rhudy from BabyIn BabyOut has a low-tech solution: a two-sided tag that tells the driver if there's a child in the car.
"This hang tag can go right over your mirror," Rhudy says. "When you're in the car you have to say 'baby in,' and then when you and your child get out you just flip it to say 'baby out.'"
The 14-year-old from Virginia came up with the idea after two children died in her town last year. Now she's teamed up with local law enforcement to distribute the tags.
Rhudy says, "Kids are our future and we need to make sure that they're safe." She hopes her invention will do just that.
Experts say one easy reminder is to leave a cell phone or handbag in the back seat so you don't forget a child is back there.