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Child safety advocates push for new technology to prevent hot car deaths

According to Kids and Car Safety, 56% of hot car deaths occur when a child is unknowingly left in a vehicle.

MEBANE, N.C. — A 1-year-old child is dead after police in Mebane, North Carolina, said the baby was left inside a vehicle.

According to NBC affiliate WRAL, the reported temperature in that area on Friday when it happened was around 86 degrees.

Police said the child was left in a vehicle outside where the father worked, WRAL reported, and there is no word on how long the child had been inside the car. 

RELATED: 1-year-old baby dies in hot car while father was at work, NC police say

This is North Carolina’s first reported hot car death this year, according to kidsandcars.org, which tracks these kinds of incidents.

“Cars become death traps in a matter of minutes when the temperature outside is in the 70s or 80s,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, said in a news conference with fellow child safety advocates.

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Child safety advocates are pushing for more to be done to prevent deaths like this from happening.

According to Kids and Car Safety, 56% of hot car deaths occur when a child is unknowingly left in a vehicle.

“Parents and caretakers, through no fault of their own, lose awareness of the presence of the child in the car, which has resulted in avoidable tragedies,” David Diamond, a professor in the Cognitive, Neural, and Social Division of the Department of Psychology at the University of South Florida, said.

As a part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress passed a mandate that would require all new cars to be equipped with a system to alert the driver to check the back seat after the car is turned off.

However, child safety advocates said they would like to see the mandates go a step further with occupant detection and alert technology.

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“The detection and alert systems would also get to incidents in which the child lets themselves into the vehicle on their own,” Tara Gill, senior director of advocacy and state legislation for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said. “They may find an unlocked car and let themselves in but not be able to get out.”

Some cars, like certain Hyundai models, already have this technology to detect movement in the backseats, with an alert sent to the owner’s phone.

“This kind of system ought to be absolutely basic technology in an age where cars are literally computers on wheels,” Blumenthal said.

Contact Kendall Morris at kmorris2@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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