Death in Hot Cars: Facts, Figures and Prevention

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More than 36 children die in overheated cars every year in the United States, research shows, adding up to more than 600 deaths since 1998.

Among this year's high-profile stories are a Georgia father facing murder and child abuse charges following his son's death, a Florida foster mother facing child neglect and a New York father who pleaded not guilty to childhood endangerment and reckless endangerment.

Texas remains the leader nationwide of hot-car deaths, according to San Francisco University’s Department of Earth and Climate Science, which led local police to offer a demonstration highlighting hot-car dangers. And as the tragedies pile up, many speculate why automakers haven't solidified a solution.

Here's a look at the numbers.

  • 1: Hot vehicles are the primary non-crash, vehicle-related killer of children under 14, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children under the age of 1 are the most common victims, according to
  • 16: Only a few weeks into summer, this year’s count of 16 hot-car deaths is currently the lowest in recent history, according to the Department of Earth and Climate Science at San Francisco State University. Twelve have been confirmed as heatstroke, while medical examiners are still investigating four.
  • 38: Since 1998, the annual average of juvenile deaths in cars has been 38, the Department of Earth and Climate Science found. There were 44 deaths last year, compared to 34 in 2012.
  • 600: Since 1998, there have been more than 600 juvenile deaths triggered by hyperthermia, or heat stroke, and the spread of cases has varied by year.
  • 61 percent: The NHTSA estimates heatstroke is the cause of 61 percent of non-crash-fatalities in children under 14.
  • 68 percent: While the majority of heatstroke deaths in cars occurs between June and August, deaths have been recorded for every month besides January over the past 16 years, according to researchers at San Francisco State University. Over that span, there were a total of 15 deaths in March and 19 in October.
  • 54 percent: More than half of those who left children alone in vehicles did so unknowingly, according to Other reasons cited: the child got into the vehicle on his or her own (32 percent), child was knowingly left in vehicle (12 percent) and circumstance unknown (2 percent).


Here are some tips to keep in mind based on information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

1. It takes 10 minutes for the temperature in a car to go up 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cracking a window open and parking in the shade aren't sufficient safeguards.

3. A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s. A child dies with a 107 degree body temperature.

4. Even if it’s in the 60s outside, your car can still heat up to well above 110 degrees.

5. It only takes a 57-degree outside temperature to cause heatstroke.

6. On an 80-degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach deadly peaks in 10 minutes.