By Keith Laing - 07/24/14 02:36 PM EDT
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is joining a campaign to prevent the deaths of children who are left in sweltering cars during the summer.
The campaign, titled “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock,” was started by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2012.
Foxx said he was hoping to raise awareness about the problem of kids being left unattended in hot cars during the summer because 17 children have died that way so far this year.
Safety advocates had petitioned the White House to last week to address the problem of children being left unattended in hot cars.
The petition, which was filed on the White House's website, calls for the Department of Transportation to "require installation of technology in all vehicles and/or child safety seats to prevent children from being left alone left alone in vehicles."
"In the last 20 years more than 670 children have died in hot vehicles," the petition states. "As of July 15 this year 17 children had already died, reports kidsandcars.org. These unthinkable tragedies can be prevented."
Acting Traffic Safety Administrator David Friedman said Tuesday that "parents and caregivers are the first line of defense against these needless tragedies, but everyone in the community has a role to play."
"Prevention means never leaving children unattended in a vehicle and always checking the backseat before walking away," Friedman said. "If a child is in distress in a hot car, bystanders should call 911 immediately.”
Several states have passed laws making it a crime to leave a child unattended in a car. However, the group says a majority of states have not passed legislation to address the issue.