Press Release 06-18-2018

DMV News


Monday, June 18, 2018

Lisa Koumjian            
[email protected]      




Children, Animals Can Be Quickly Overcome Even in Mild Temperatures If Left in Car

As dangerously high temperatures and humidity move into the State, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) urge parents and caregivers to “look before they lock” to make sure they do not leave children or pets alone in a hot car.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), heatstroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities among children.  NHTSA reports 42 children nationwide died as a result of heatstroke from being in hot vehicles in 2017, a 63 percent increase from 2015.

“It is a common misconception that these tragedies happen only to ‘bad’ parents,” said Terri Egan, DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and Acting GTSC Chair. “Any parent can have a momentary lapse of attention with dangerous consequences, especially if their daily routine is changed or interrupted. We are urging everyone who transports a child to take steps to remind yourself to check your car before you leave it. It can be as simple as setting a reminder on your phone, just to be certain that you dropped your child off at school or day care before you head into work.”

Even at home, it is important to take precautions.  Drivers should also always lock their cars and leave the keys out of reach of children. An open car can be an enticing place for a child to play, and they may not understand the dangers of being in an enclosed car or how to open the car doors if they lock.

From 1998 until June 16 of this year, 755 children have died due to pediatric vehicular heatstroke. All of these deaths could have been prevented. In more than half the cases, the deaths resulted because a father, mother or caregiver forgot the child was still in the backseat. Another 27 percent occurred when a child got into a car to play.

Even in cooler temperatures, your vehicle can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise by 20 degrees, enough to kill a child left alone inside.  An outside temperature in the mid-60s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, the NHTSA says

NHTSA provides guidance for parents, caregivers and passersby on how to prevent a child from suffering heatstroke and even offers a quiz on the subject.

For Parents and Caregivers: 

  • Place a briefcase, purse, or cell phone next to the child’s car seat so that you’ll always check the back seat before leaving the car.
  • Call your spouse or another caregiver to confirm you’ve dropped your child off.
  • Have your daycare provider call you if your child doesn’t arrive.
  • Write a note and place it on the dashboard of your car, or set a reminder on your cell phone or calendar.

For Bystanders:

  • Make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.
  • If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA system.
  • If the child is not responsive and appears to be in distress, call 911 and immediately attempt to get into the car to assist the child—even if that means breaking a window.

Pets Should Be Protected Too

Pets too can suffer or die if left unattended in a vehicle. The Humane Society reports that temperatures in a car on a warm day can exceed 120 degrees in a matter of minutes — even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.

The Humane Society offers the following advice if your pet is exposed to high temperatures:

  • Look for signs of heat stress—heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting or a deep red or purple tongue.
  • If your pet is overheated, move him or her to a cooler area and take these emergency steps:
    • Gradually lower his body temperature by sprinkling cool water on him or her. Do not soak your pet in cool or cold water because the animal’s temperature could drop too low.
    • Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin area. You may also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water. Direct a fan on the wet areas to speed evaporative cooling.
    • You may offer fresh, cool water if your dog, cat or other animal is alert and wants to drink. Do not force your pet to drink.
    • Take your pet immediately to a veterinarian—it could save her or his life. Call ahead, if possible, to be sure your veterinarian is available.


If you see an animal in a car exhibiting signs of heat stress, the Humane Society advises to call your local animal care and control agency or police department immediately. You should get the vehicle’s license plate number and enter the nearest store or business to request an emergency announcement be made about a pet left in a hot car. You should then go back and wait for police at the vehicle.