Hot Car Deaths

Heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles

Hot car deaths are a potential danger in every state. While the majority of these tragedies occur during the summer, deaths have been recorded in every month. Research has shown that vehicles become dangerously hot quickly, even when the outside temperature is moderate. With an outside ambient air temperature of 72°F, the internal vehicle temperature can reach 117°F within 60 minutes, with 80% of the temperature increase occurring in the first 30 minutes. In general, after 60 minutes, one can expect a 40°F average increase in internal temperatures for ambient temperatures between 72° and 96°F. (Source)

The interactive chart allows you to explore vehicle-related heatstroke deaths among children by year, month, outside ambient temperature, state, and sex. Hot car deaths have been recorded for ambient air temperatures as low as 13°F and in nearly every state.

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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 20 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 During 2008-2011 (DOT HS 812 779)