CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) – National organizations, lawmakers and one local mother are pushing to make cars safer after 33 children died from heat strokes in hot cars in the United States just last year, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.  

Advocates are calling for the child protection “hot cars” provision, which was passed as part of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, to move forward more quickly so that alert technology will be mandated and future lives can be saved.  

This provision would require new cars to have safety features like automatic emergency braking, impaired driving prevention tech and detection and alarm systems that could sense when a child is alone in a hot car, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

One Chesterfield County woman who is grieving the loss of her husband and son joined others on a nationwide Zoom call Monday to advocate for change.  

“‘How could anyone forget their child in the car?’ I went from that to a grieving widow suffering immensely from the heartache of losing my baby boy, and my husband all in one day,” Laura Beck said. 

Beck will never forget the day in 2022 when she found out her son never made it to daycare, and how she felt.   

“I was traveling down the highway with my emergency lights on, passing everybody I could possibly pass to get to wherever my baby was,” Beck said.  

On that June day, her husband forgot to take their son out of the car on the way to work. When he realized what he did and that their son had died, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Beck hopes by telling her story, she can shed some light on the reality of hot car deaths.

“There’s such a stigma behind these types of tragedies,” Beck said. “So, I’m here to tell you that it does happen,”

Now, Beck is joining members of Congress, Kids and Car Safety, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and other experts in a call to action to prevent this from happening to other families.

“Babies do not have to die in hot cars, and the solution is in your hands,” Beck said. “You can protect them, the hot car provision needs to move forward immediately.”

Although the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was passed in 2021, advocates are calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a final rule that will require a reminder alert system in all new cars.   

“We need legislation that will take the additional step to require technology for detecting a child in the backseat,” Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal said. “This sensor can literally save lives, a simple sensor can save lives, prevent cars from becoming death,”

The NHTSA has until November to issue a rule on the provision.