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Photo illustration: Axios visuals

This year is on track to become the deadliest year for children being left in hot cars, according to founder and president of advocacy group Kids and Cars, Janette Fennell.

The big picture: By this point in 2010 — declared the deadliest year, during which 49 children died. This year to date, there have been 29 deaths of children being left in hot cars according to Kids and Cars' count. 2018 has already seen all-time high temperature records, largely seen as a near-term impact of climate change.

What they're doing

Fennell and her organization are fighting for technology to be installed in vehicles that serves as a reminder "so someone will know that there's a child, a pet, or an elderly or disabled person in the back seat," Fennell said.

  • The "Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act," or the HOT CARS Act, was introduced in the House last year by Kids and Cars with Reps. Tim Ryan, Peter King, and Jan Schakowsky. It passed after being attached to the Self-Drive Act.
  • The purpose is to require vehicles "to be equipped with a system to alert the operator to check rear designated seating positions after the vehicle engine or motor is deactivated by the operator."

The bill was then introduced in the Senate, and attached as an amendment to the AV START Act, which is still pending approval as lawmakers work through additional safety concerns according to Senator Richard Blumenthal's office, who was a sponsor of the original legislation.

What they're saying
  • Dr. David Diamond, professor of molecular physiology at the University of South Florida, researched brain activity in relation children being left in the back seat. He told the told the Washington Post: "Memory is a machine, and it is not flawless. Our conscious mind priorities things by importance, but on a cellular level, our memory does not. If you're capable of forgetting your cellphone, you are potentially capable of forgetting your child."
  • Blumenthal said last year when he introduced the HOT CARS Act: "It can take mere minutes on a hot day for a car to turn into a deathtrap for a small child. ... A simple sensor could save the lives of dozens of children killed tragically in overheated cars each year, and my bill would ensure such technology is available in every car sold in the United States."
"We just can't wait. This has been a tough year."
— Fennell, to Axios

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

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