By IAED Staff
In July 2014, Tennessee became the first state in the USA to pass a law that specifically protects people from liability for forcibly breaking into cars and rescuing kids they think are at risk of heatstroke. The law requires those individuals to call 911 first and follow instructions.
Tennessee’s law was novel because of its approach to tackling the issue. Other states make it a crime to leave the child in the car but do not address the legalities of bystander intervention. Some examples include:
• Florida makes it a misdemeanor to leave a child younger than 6 unsupervised in a car for more than 15 minutes or for any time if the vehicle is running or the child appears to be in distress. It becomes a felony if the above action results in great harm to the child. The law also allows a law enforcement officer who sees an unattended child in distress in a vehicle to use whatever means necessary to get the child out of the vehicle.
• Nevada makes it a misdemeanor to leave a child age 7 or younger alone in a vehicle if the conditions present a safety risk to the child or if the vehicle is left running.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) more than 40 children die each year of vehicular heatstroke.
Sources: NHTSA and KidsAndCars