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Nashville, TN – With above average temperatures this June, the ‘dog days of summer’ are certainly looming on the state of Tennessee. As the heat becomes a factor, the Tennessee Department of Safety would like to remind motorists to never leave children or pets in an unattended vehicle, which can be a dangerous and sometimes deadly offense.
“A child or a pet should never be left in an unattended vehicle under any circumstances – especially in the heat,” said Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell. “Motorists should routinely make sure all occupants exit the vehicle whenever they leave a car. An illness or even worse, a death, due to such a senseless tragedy is absolutely preventable.”
On a typical sunny, summer day, experts say the temperature inside a car can reach potentially deadly levels within minutes. Even on a mild day at 73 degrees outside, an SUV can heat up to 100 degrees in 10 minutes and to 120 degrees in just 30 minutes. At 90 degrees outside, the interior of a vehicle can heat up to 160 degrees within several minutes.
“Children are not safe from heat buildup when motorists crack the window of a parked car,” said Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel
Mike Walker. “The best way to protect your children is to never leave them unattended in a vehicle; not even for a minute. This negligence could lead to the loss of a loved one, as well as jail time or stiff penalties. Don’t risk it.”
Make sure your child is safe this summer and always follow a few simple safety tips:
Only 15 states, including Tennessee, have laws that prohibit leaving a child unattended in a vehicle.
TCA Code 39-15-401
TCA Code 39-15-401 provides that “any person who knowingly, other than by accidental means, treats a child under eighteen years of age in such a manner as to inflict injury commits a Class A misdemeanor. Class A Misdemeanors carry a penalty of not greater than 11 months, 29 days or a fine up to $2,500, or both. If the abused child is six years of age or less, the penalty is a Class D felony.
TCA Code 39-15-402
TCA Code 39-15-402 carries a possible Class B or Class A felony for aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment. Class A Felonies can carry a penalty of not less than 15 no more than 60 years. In addition, the jury may assess a fine not to exceed $50,000.
TCA Code 55-10-803 (a)
TCA Code 55-10-803 (a) It is an offense for a person responsible for a child younger than seven (7) years of age to knowingly leave that child in a motor vehicle located on public property or while on the premises of any shopping center, trailer park, or any apartment house complex, or any other premises that is generally frequented by the public at large without being supervised in the motor vehicle by a person who is at least thirteen (13) years of age, if:
This is a serious issue
As of June 13th, 2010, there have been 10 child deaths in the United States due to hypothermia from being left behind in hot vehicles. Last year, nationwide, there were at least 33 U.S. deaths due to the same cause. (Source: San Francisco State University)
The Tennessee Department of Human Services is taking similar steps to protect children transported by child care providers. To learn more, visit: http://www.tennessee.gov/humanserv/news/10/news-06-07-10.pdf and http://www.tn.gov/humanserv/adfam/cc_main.html.
Motorists should also take precautions in the event of a break down on a highway, especially with children or senior citizens in the vehicle. The Tennessee Highway Patrol suggests the following safety tips when traveling:
About the Tennessee Department of Safety
The Tennessee Department of Safety’s mission is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public. The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.
TopicsDave Mitchell, Dial *THP, Heat, hypothermia, Mike Walker, TCA Code 39-15-401, TCA Code 39-15-402, TCA Code 55-10-803 (a), Tennessee Department of Safety, Tennessee Highway Patrol
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