A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation he hopes will prevent the death of children in overheated cars.
The bill would make it a criminal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison if a child under the age of 6 were seriously injured or died from being left unattended in a vehicle, said Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean.
He says sometimes parents just forget a child is in the car.
“They get to their destination. They’ve got other things on their mind, like getting groceries out of the car because it’s hot. The child is sleeping,” Dancer said. “We need to beat the heat and check the back seat. That’s the theme of trying to heighten public awareness.”
The legislation would allow police to use whatever means necessary, including breaking a window, to get a child out of a locked vehicle with no civil liability.
“This is hard to believe, but law enforcement officers that have taken whatever means are necessary to protect and remove the child from the vehicle, they have been held liable by the owners of the vehicle for the damage in some cases to the windows,” Dancer said.
About 38 children in the U.S. die each year from being left in cars where the temperature can rise 20 degrees an hour on a sunny day, he said.