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FCC Approves Vehicle Sensors to Help Prevent ‘Hot Car’ Deaths

— April 18, 2021

The FCC recently announced it will begin to grant waivers to allow equipment manufacturers and automakers to install technology that can help prevent hot car deaths.

We’ve all heard or read about tragic incidents involving children dying after being left alone in hot vehicles for too long. Fortunately, the FCC recently announced a plan that will hopefully help prevent these tragic deaths. Last week, the FCC announced it will grant “waivers to allow equipment manufacturers and automakers to install radar-based technology that can detect and alert to the presence of a child in a vehicle, in some instances movement as subtle as a baby breathing.”

Image of a Warning Sign
Warning Sign; image courtesy of Peter-Lomas via Pixabay,

In response to the announcement, Janette Fennell, President of, said:

“Over 990 children have died in hot cars since 1990…The inexpensive technology granted waivers today by the FCC is the detection feature necessary to address both children unknowingly left alone in vehicles as well as those who get into vehicles on their own. Our vehicles are already filled with so many reminders, yet this addition may be the latest, best life-saving feature for our precious young children.”

Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, also chimed in and said:

“Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety commends Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology for granting waiver requests from equipment manufacturers and automakers to use proven technology to stop preventable and perilous ‘hot car’ deaths caused by children unknowingly left in or independently entering otherwise unoccupied cars. Public education and voluntary industry agreements have not and will not overcome this serious risk. The critical next step is for Congress to require vehicles to be equipped with these detection and alert systems so that drivers and caregivers are reminded of the presence of a child in the back seat. This technology will save the lives of some of our most vulnerable passengers.”

These two organizations are currently working hard to advance legislation aimed at preventing hot car deaths. In fact, during the last Congressional session, The Hot Cars Act (H.R. 3593) and the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), “which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 1, 2020, directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop a minimum performance standard for systems that can detect the presence of an occupant and respond with alerts and would require this technology as standard equipment in all new cars.” 

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, equipment and technology like this are ever more important because the number of hot car deaths involving children getting trapped in vehicles “rose from 26% to 36% in 2020.

Families who have past experience dealing with these heartbreaking incidents have come out in support of these measures. Miles Harrison is one of those parents. Harrison lost his son and has since been working hard to prevent similar incidents. He said:

“Changes in routine, stress, sleep deprivation and other factors can predispose one’s brain to go on ‘autopilot’ and a parent or caregiver can lose awareness of a child in the back seat of a car. I am so very thankful that the FCC has granted waivers to allow the use of available and affordable technology to help end these predictable and preventable tragedies.”


Statement on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Decision Permitting In-Vehicle Sensors to Prevent ‘Hot Car’ Deaths

FCC permits new in-vehicle sensors to prevent ‘hot car’ deaths

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