The Ad Council and NHTSA Launch New Campaign to Raise Awareness of Hot Car Deaths

By Kyle O'Brien 

Today is National Heatstroke Prevention Day and the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), along with pro bono creative agency Chemistry, debuted a campaign reminding parents and caregivers of the dangers of hot vehicles.

The new PSAs raise awareness of the issue of hot car deaths and how it could happen, emphasizing that, while it could happen to anyone, it is always preventable.


“Child hot car deaths are deeply tragic—and they are 100% preventable. With this new work, we hope to increase parent and caregiver knowledge around the dangers of heatstroke to help them keep our most precious passengers safe,” said Michelle Hillman, chief campaign development officer, the Ad Council in a statement.

Pediatric vehicular heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related fatality for kids 14 and younger. The “Never Happens” campaign uses simple vignettes of life’s imperfect moments to show the many things parents promise never to do. However, “never” can happen, such as forgetting a child in a hot car or having a child stuck in a car. Since cars heat up quickly, the PSAs raise awareness about the dangers of children being alone in vehicles and encourage all parents and caregivers to always “Stop. Look. Lock.” before walking away from their vehicle.

“Hot car deaths are heartbreaking, but they are also preventable,” said NHTSA deputy administrator Sophie Shulman in a statement. “We are asking all Americans to understand the risks posed by hot cars and do their part to keep children safe.”

The “Never Happens” PSAs come as temperatures around the country begin to rise ahead of summer. This campaign leverages a wide array of assets, including TV, radio, print, outdoor, and digital assets, available in both English and Spanish. Child hot car deaths have occurred in nearly every state so the ads will be placed nationally in donated media, with a focus on the “sunbelt” states where the majority of pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths occur.

“As parents, we say we’ll never do a ton of things, but ‘never’ happens all the time. To get parents to believe that child hot car deaths can happen to them, we reminded them of all the other ‘nevers’ that have already become a reality for them,” said Will Benham, executive creative director, Chemistry in a statement. “We only get a handful of opportunities in our career to do something this meaningful and creatively fulfilling. To make work you’re really proud of with partners you trust and have ‘lives saved’ as the measure of success, is pretty unbeatable.”

The effort continues online at the site, where parents and caregivers can find important information about preventing hot car injury and death.