You’ve heard the heartbreaking stories of what can happen when a parent leaves a child alone in a car. Some die from the heat, others are injured, and some are even abducted by would-be car thieves. Florida lawmakers say it’s time to get serious about finding ways to prevent those needless tragedies.
A public service announcement is part of a campaign at the Capitol to get parents to think twice before they leave a child alone in a car. The cartoon is cute, but the message is deadly serious.
Senator Mandy Dawson helped create the public service announcement, but she also wants to put some teeth into the law. She’s sponsoring a bill that could send parents to prison if a child left alone in a car gets seriously injured or worse.
Right now, she says it’s just a traffic infraction.
"Florida should be a Sunshine State for children, too. It’s a horrible death and we’re here to protect them. That’s our job."
Hundreds of children are injured or killed in the U.S. every year after being left unattended in cars. In 2004, 10 children died in overheated cars in Florida alone.
Parent Daisy Cuevas brought her two-year-old to the Capitol to help raise awareness of the crisis. Cuevas says she never leaves Jennifer alone in the car, and other parents shouldn’t either.
"Take the baby and go to the store with the baby because a lot of babies die."
There’s no punishment worse for a parent than the death of a child. But supporters hope a get-tough stance will mean fewer children die alone in cars.
The bill (SB 20) that would make it a misdemeanor for a person to leave an unattended child in a vehicle for more than 15 minutes, and a felony if the child is seriously hurt passed its first Senate committee on a 6-1 vote this week. It has one more committee to clear before the full Senate could vote on it.