Transcript for Activist whose child was left in hot car and survived says it 'can happen to anyone'
Good evening. Thanks for joining us. It's a scary scenario. An infant forgotten in a car on a hot summer day, trapped in the deadly heat. Now a group of moms pushing for new technology to protect vulnerable children and prevent hot car deaths. Here's ABC's Diane Macedo. I screamed oh, my god, the I was shouting, get back in the car, the baby's in the other car. Reporter: It took only minutes to turn Erin Holley's world upside down in a hot summer day in 2017, she and her husband accidently left their five week old son Finn locked in I remember saying to my husband, I don't know how quickly cars get fatally hot, but I know it's really fast. And I didn't know, I just didn't know how devastated, how, I didn't know how devastating this exact situation would be. Reporter: They raced back, and luckily, when they arrived on the scene, a miracle. The car was still cool when we got back to it. And he was perfectly fine. He was still asleep when we got there. Reporter: Now, Holley is a mom with a message. If this could happen to our family, when we firmly believed it never could, then it absolutely can happen to anyone. Reporter: But many parents aren't so lucky. More than 900 children have died in hot cars since 1990, with 25 deaths this year alone. 2018 was the deadliest year on record, with 52 hot car deaths across the U.S. So I think most parents, whether they will admit it or not, have a deep, sinking fear that this could happen to their family. Reporter: Now the mom turned activist is working to make sure no other parent has a close call like she did. Knowing that it is preventible makes it completely unbearable. That we continue to see children dying in the back seat of cars. Reporter: Erin is part of an organization called kids in cars which advocates for tougher children's safety measures in the auto industry. Janette fennel is the founder. Fennel has dedicated her life to making sure the auto industry implements those changes. What is the difference between life and death of a child? I think they should be doing everything they can to prevent these absolutely heartbreaking tragedies. Reporter: July is the most common month for hot car deaths, with the most occurring on a Thursday or Friday. On an 88 degree day, the inside of a car can reach a deadly temperature of 125 degrees in less than an hour. Leaving her 1-year-old daughter to die in a hot car. The fourth child to die no in Florida. Reporter: A series of devastating headlines across the country this summer has prompted outrage, prompting many to wonder why these preventible deaths keep happening. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking it can't happen to you. Reporter: Juan Rodriguez was arrested after his twins died in his accord. He thought he dropped the babies at day care before going to work. It wasn't until ten minutes into his drive home that he realized his mistake. He faces criminally negligent homicide, but today a twist in the investigation. Prosecutors are putting the case on hold. The emotional father was seen holding his 4-year-old son after court. His grieving wife beside him maintains the incident was an accident, not a crime. Mr. Rodriguez and his family will certainly be dedicating their life to the cause of ensuring that this does not happen to anyone else again. Reporter: The family is now pushing to pass a New York state law to mandate all new vehicles be equipped with technology to alert parents that children are in the car, something their car did not have. There is no reason, no excuse for the auto industry to oppose this legislation. It's common sense. Reporter: Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut has been pushing for similar federal legislation for years. He says finally some auto makers like GM, Nissan and Hyundai are getting on board voluntarily. GM says some models have rear seat technology, and by 2020 all models will. The rogue, the Altima has alerts. The alert is displayed on the dashboard, reminding the driver to check the back seat. But fennel says most car makers are not going far enough. The key is, any technology that is added to the vehicle should detect the presence of a child. Now a couple of vehicles, a hundred day Santa fe and palisade and a telluride where the Kia and Hyundai vehicles go that extra step that we need is when you lock your vehicle and walk away, if it senses any motion in your back seat or row if you have that, the vehicle, after 20 seconds, it will start beeping and the lights will start blinking. So everybody would know that there's a child at peril. Eporter: Fennel has been an early supporter of bills like Blumenthal's. What we're asking for is for new vehicles to come with a new feature. And all we're asking it to do is to detect the presence of a look at the number of safety features in this vehicle. You know, we've both got a bud if we didn't put on our seat belt. Or it will tell us if the door's ajar, or if you leave the keys in the ignition, or don't forget to check the tire pressure. . Reporter: Or if you leave the lights on. Wait a second. It's okay to have a dead baby but not a dead battery? Reporter: When we initially buckled my baby in, he was crying. It seems really easy to remember he's there. But we just pulled out and he is already asleep. That's right. And there's those little quiet, unobtrusive, precious cargo in the back seat. Reporter: I looked into this and came up with a list of at least ten different products that claim to help but this. As a consumer, how hard is it to choose the right one? I guess you need to do a little research. I don't think everybody can test every product. Reporter: We chose two. One is a sensor you can put on any car seat. The other, a feature on the popular driving app, waze. So we go here. And we go to settings. And then scroll down to reminders. And then the child reminder. You want to make sure that it is on. And then here you can say whatever you want the reminder to be. Here mine says check for child in back seat. Done. You've arrived at your destination. Let's see if waze wants to tell us that we have a baby in the back seat. Check for child in back seat. Reporter: And waze just reminded me. Check for child in the back seat. Next we tried the seat sensor. How does it work? You put the pad underneath the child, so it's sensing the and then you have the receiver on your driver's seat. And it senses as soon as you open that door. Reporter: We tried it out. And as soon as I opened the door, I heard this. Occupant detected in car seat. Please remove child from the seat. Reporter: It's pretty clear. Pretty cool. And it's very specific. It tells you what you need to do immediately. Reporter: Car seats are also incorporating technology to alert parents when a child is left behind. Right now only two companies have models on the market, even Flo and side Bex. The evenflo sells for around $120. The cybex sells for around $300. We're fallible. Reporter: When I put the call out for advice on social media, parents offered up their own homemade hacks. Many said leaving something critical in the back seat is the first, like a purse or wallet. Megan suggested leave your phone in the back seat next to baby. Another mother posted, take off your left shoe when you get in the car if the baby is with you, when you reach your destination, you're not going to walk out with a barefoot. Put a big stuffed animal in the car seat. Whenever you put your child in the car seat move the stuffed animal to the front seat of your car. This is a vulnerability that affects people from every walk of life and that no one is fully protected against it unless they have a plan in place to always remember their child and always look before they lock.
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