(By Rep. Karen Boback – R-Columbia/Luzerne/Wyoming) Last Friday on CBS This Morning, the program featured a segment on children being trapped in hot cars. The report mentioned the statistics for this year, 2018, and how 27 kids have died trapped in hot cars.
According to KidsandCars.com, the 27 deaths this year are right on course with the yearly national average of 37. These statistics are devastating. They are not numbers. We must remember these are defenseless babies and children.
We need a proactive approach to this problem and enact legislation that better protects our children from the dangers of being trapped inside a hot car.
As a result, I have introduced House Bill 1152, which would provide civil immunity for any damage that may be done to a vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue a child.
In some instances, parents and/or caregivers claimed to have unknowingly left a sleeping baby or toddler in a car. My bill encourages passersby to take a second look, contact law enforcement, and step in to help when every second counts.
The Centers for Disease Control says the temperature inside a parked car can rise by 20 degrees after ten minutes in the sun, even with a cracked window.
The immunity in my bill would only apply when the person acts reasonably under the circumstances. Good Samaritans must have a good-faith belief that the child is in imminent danger; they must have determined the vehicle is locked and there is no reasonable method for the child to be removed prior to forcibly entering the vehicle; and the person must have attempted to contact law enforcement.
My bill was passed unanimously out of the House Judiciary Committee last July. I am encouraging our leaders in the General Assembly to consider moving this bill quickly and ensure that this bill, which has the potential to save lives, sees a vote soon.
While this bill awaits action, it is always important to remain vigilant, and as always, if you see a child trapped in a hot car, take action immediately. Every second counts.