Hot Car Deaths

Heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles

On average, 37 children under the age of 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. Nearly every state has experienced at least one death since 1998, and in 2017, 42 children died after being left in a hot vehicle. The number of child heatstroke deaths for 2018 will be updated as new information becomes available throughout the year.

The data provided on this page is made available by Jan Null, CCM, Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose State University. Null, a certified consulting meteorologist, has been tracking U.S. child vehicular heatstroke deaths since 1998. His research indicates that in more than half of these fatalities, the child was forgotten in the vehicle by a parent or caregiver.

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Explore the data details to track trends by state, outside air temperature and sex of victim.

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Methods and data source:

All data on hot vehicle heatstroke deaths among children was collected by Jan Null, CCM, Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose State University, and reported through, a program supported by the National Safety Council. Data is gathered using customized online news searches of electronic media using tools including Google News and Lexis-Nexus. Some deaths are also reported to the researcher from third parties with verifiable information that was not covered by local media, occurred in locations without electronic media or was suppressed by families or local authorities.

Fatality estimates reported by using electronic news sources are nearly twice as high as available public records. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports an average of 19 children younger than 15 die due to heatstroke in vehicles. In contrast, media reports collected by identifies an average of 37 deaths a year.

Source: Traffic Safety Facts, Not-in-Traffic Surveillance Non-Crash Fatalities and Injuries (DOT HS 812 120)

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