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Speaker Beth Harwell works to raise awareness about hot car deaths

NASHVILLE – Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) is working this summer to raise awareness about how to prevent the deaths of children trapped in hot cars. A recent report concluded Tennessee is in the top 10 states for death of children due to hot vehicles, claiming 23 deaths from 1998-2014.

“As summer temperatures are soaring into the 90s, it is critically important that we raise awareness about this issue. Across the country, as of the middle of June, there have been five child vehicular heat stroke deaths this year,” said Speaker Harwell. “We need to get the message to all Tennesseans that it’s dangerous to leave your child unattended in your vehicle, even for a minute.”

Speaker Harwell also praised the efforts of Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville), who last year passed legislation that protected from the cost of damages those who forced their way into a hot car to save a child. The law requires Good Samaritans to first call 911, and check for locked doors. After doing so, they can break into the car to rescue a child. Representative Hawk passed a similar law in the General Assembly this year that applies to animals in distress in hot vehicles.

Twenty states have laws that address leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, including Tennessee. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, meaning heatstroke is more of a threat.

“The danger for children left in hot cars is an important issue for parents to be thinking about this summer,” said Jude White, Executive Director of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet.  “Parents can visit to learn more about protecting their child from heatstroke and other important summer topics.”

Speaker Harwell has recorded a PSA to raise awareness for the issue, which can be viewed on her Facebook page, at For more state resources and information on children’s health, education, development, and support, visit

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