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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

For Immediate Release: February 13, 2007

Senator Susan Paddack
Senator Susan Paddack

Senate Committee Advances Bill Aimed at Kids Left in Cars

Leaving a child alone in a vehicle can be deadly—especially in the summertime. Yet every year there are tragic reports about children and infants dying after being left alone in hot cars. Sen. Susan Paddack is hoping to decrease such incidents with SB 551, the Forget-Me-Not Vehicle Safety Act. The measure was approved by the Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday.

“I’ve seen one study that says on the average, about 30 children a year die nationwide from either being left in a hot car or getting into parked a car without any supervision and being trapped,” said Paddack, D-Ada. “We also know that kids left in cars can be kidnapped by car thieves, and we’ve seen that happen in Oklahoma as well.”

Studies have shown that when the temperature outside is 85 degrees, it only takes 15 minutes for the inside of a car to reach 100 degrees. Within another half hour, it climbs to 120 degrees. Because children are more vulnerable to heat, their body temperature can increase three to five times faster than an adult’s.

SB 551 would make it illegal to leave a child six or younger alone in a car, although they could remain in a vehicle if another person who is at least 12 years old, such as a sibling, is with them. A first time offense would be a misdemeanor with a fine of at least $50. A second offense would result in a fine of at least $100 and a requirement to perform at least 50 hours of community service. A third or subsequent offense would result in a fine of at least $200, and a full record of all related convictions would be submitted to the Department of Human Services for Evaluation.

Anyone leaving a child alone in a vehicle while drinking inside a bar would face a fine of at least $500. All provisions of the bill apply to anyone leaving a vulnerable adult unattended in a vehicle as well.

“We want to send a message loud and clear that leaving children alone in cars can be a deadly mistake,” Paddack said. “If we can get that message out through legislation, then I think we should do it.”

SB 551 next will be considered by the full Senate.

For more information contact:
Senator Paddack's Office - (405) 521-5618

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