New Florida bill would prohibit leaving kids unattended inside hot cars

South Florida lawmaker working to tighten loophole in law

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A South Florida lawmaker is pushing for a new bill to crack down on children left in hot cars.

State Rep. Emily Slosberg has been working to tighten what's being call a loophole in the law in the form of how long parents can legally leave their children inside a car that's turned off. 

According to News4Jax records, there have been five local cases so far this year. 

Just last week, Jacksonville police said, a 30-year-old mother was arrested and charged with child neglect after she left her two children in a hot car for nearly half an hour while shopped at Walmart. 

Chelsea Vest, a mother of two children, said when temperatures outside are topping 90 degrees, even one minute inside a hot car is too much. 

"Even just turning the car off for two minutes, you can already start sweating in there," she said. 

According to Florida law, it's currently illegal for parents to leave their children inside a car for 16 minutes or longer, but 15 minutes or less inside a car that's turned off is allowed. 

Some parents told News4Jax on Wednesday that they're shocked. 

"I think that's wrong," said Tim Vest, a father of two. "I think you shouldn't even leave them in at all."

Added Marsela Campbell, a mother, "It's very surprising that there is actually a law that allows 15 minutes."

News4Jax measured how hot a car can get in 15 minutes. When it was 87 degrees outside just before the noon on Wednesday, the temperature inside the car, which was turned off, topped 100 degree. The thermometer in the car was out of direct sunlight. When the thermometer was placed in direct sunlight, the temperature topped 115 degrees. 

Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, on Wednesday confirmed to News4Jax via phone that she's working on a bill prohibiting anyone from leaving a child unattended inside a hot car for any amount of time. She said the bill is in drafting now, and will most likely be filed next week. 

She said she started working on the bill after the mayor of Coral Springs saw a baby left inside a car at a sporting goods store, and police said there was nothing they could do until the baby was in there for 15 minutes.

Slosberg said that is "totally ridiculous," and in that time, cars become a "death trap for babies."

Safe Kids Northeast Florida said if it would increase awareness of children dying from heatstroke in cars or ending up in the emergency room, the local coalition supports the proposed legislation. 

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, more than half of the deaths from children in hot cars are from being forgotten.

Parents can create reminders by buckling something in the backseat that is needed at the next stop, such as a purse. That way, parents won't forget about their little ones. 

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