FRANKFORT, Ky. – Representative David Hale (left), R-Wellington (74th District), and Senator Danny Carroll (right), R-Paducah (2nd District), on July 16, 2015 announced they are pre-filing legislation for the 2016 Regular Session that if approved would provide civil immunity to any Kentucky from damage done to a vehicle to remove a child locked in a car in extreme heat. The “Look Before You Lock” legislation would treat individuals as a Good Samaritan if they meet criteria in those situations.
The bills filed by Rep. Hale and Sen. Carroll allow a person who has a “reasonable good faith belief” that a child is in eminent danger to gain entry into the vehicle and move the child to safety. The bill will also encourage the Kentucky Department of Highway Safety to create an educational campaign called “Look Before You Lock,” to focus on the importance of checking your backseat before exiting the vehicle to avoid unattended children being left inside.
The bill’s goal is to protect children and the Good Samaritans who are trying to help them. Before anyone can intervene, a person must:
1. Have a reasonable good faith belief that entry into the vehicle is necessary because the minor is in imminent danger of physical injury if not immediately removed from the vehicle.
2. Contact local law enforcement, the local fire department, or a 911 emergency dispatcher.
3. Use no more force to enter the vehicle and remove the child than is reasonably necessary.
4. Remain with the minor in a safe location, out of the elements but reasonably close to the vehicle, until law enforcement, firefighters, or other emergency responders arrive.
5. If the person reasonably determines that emergency conditions require leaving the scene, they must place written notice on the vehicle containing: the person’s contact information, the reason entry into the vehicle was made, the minor's location, and notice that authorities have been contacted.
“Seconds counts when a child is locked in a car and exposed to extreme heat that we often experience during summers in Kentucky, and quick action is needed to save their lives,” said Rep. Hale. “No one should be held liable for rescuing a child in such extreme conditions, which is why I’m pleased to sponsor this bill in the House.”
"In this era of excessive civil litigation it is crucial we remove this concern from anyone attempting rescuing a child from these circumstances, which all too often lead to serious medical complications or death. I am honored to sponsor this legislation in the Senate and my hope is that children's lives will be saved,” Sen. Carroll said.
The bills sponsored by Sen. Carroll and Rep. Hale have the support of state and local law enforcement agencies and advocates of legislators to prevent heatstroke deaths among children locked in vehicles.
“The Kentucky Sheriffs’ Association supports bills sponsored by Sen. Carroll and Rep. Hale that would not only save a child’s life but protect those trying to do the right thing,” said Troy L. Young, Anderson County Sheriff and President of the Kentucky Sheriffs’ Association.
According to the organization Kids and Cars, there have been 723 heat stroke deaths involving children in cars since 1991, with nearly two-thirds of those deaths occurring in the last 14 years. The organization says in 50 percent of those cases, the parent or guardian responsible for the child’s death unknowingly left them in the vehicle.
“If a passerby notices a child left alone in a vehicle and has a good faith belief that the child may suffer harm, immediate action is needed. Sen. Carroll and Rep. Hale’s bills can make a life and death difference to a child placed in such a dire circumstance. Good Samaritans who rescue an endangered child in a car should be able to do so without fear of repercussions," said Janette E. Fennell, Founder and President of Kids and Cars.
For information and statistics about Child Vehicular Heat Stroke, go to: www.KidsAndCars.org<http://www.KidsAndCars.org>.