An Assembly panel recently approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker, Ralph Caputo and Thomas Giblin to create a public awareness campaign on the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles.
“Every year, heartbreaking and preventable deaths occur when children are left unattended in cars,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “Making parents and child caretakers more aware of the dangers that exist will hopefully help prevent future tragedies.”
The bill (A-3709) would require the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety, in consultation with the Department of Children and Families, to establish a public awareness campaign to provide information to the general public concerning the dangers of leaving children unattended in and around motor vehicles, and preventative measures that may be taken by parents or guardians to promote child safety and protect against unintended injury or death.
“We’ve heard countless tragic stories of parents saying, ‘I only left them alone in the car while I ran inside for a minute,’ but in extreme heat or cold a minute or two can be life-threatening,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “A coordinated public awareness campaign will hopefully help avoid these dangers.
The division is required to provide printed and electronic educational materials concerning child safety in and around motor vehicles and to disseminate the materials to licensed child care centers and public venues throughout the state, as well as any means determined appropriate by the departments.
“Sometimes even the most well-intentioned parents don’t realize how quickly the situation can become dangerous when a child is left alone in a car,” said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic). “With the proper public awareness, we can make sure no one underestimates the risks involved when leaving a child alone in a vehicle.”
The bill requires the division to report the activities and accomplishments of the public awareness campaign to the governor and the legislature within two years of the bill’s effective date.
The measure was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee.