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The Ad Council and NHTSA Launch New "Never Happens" Campaign to Raise Awareness About the Issue of Hot Car Deaths

The Latest PSAs Developed by Chemistry Spread Awareness About the Dangers of Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke and Remind Parents and Caregivers to Always "Stop. Look. Lock."

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2024 -- This National Heatstroke Prevention Day, the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), along with pro bono creative agency Chemistry, debuted a campaign with new public service advertisements (PSAs) reminding parents and caregivers of the dangers of hot vehicles. This new work raises awareness of the issue of hot car deaths and the circumstances under which it could happen, emphasizing that while this could happen to anyone, it is always preventable.

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"The partnership between the Ad Council and NHTSA has promoted safety on America's roads for decades, and we are honored to continue bringing awareness to another critical issue together," said Michelle Hillman, chief campaign development officer, the Ad Council. "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."

"Hot car deaths are heartbreaking, but they are also preventable," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman. "We are asking all Americans to understand the risks posed by hot cars and do their part to keep children safe. When you park Stop. Look. Lock."

Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (child hot car deaths) is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related fatality for kids 14 and younger. The "Never Happens" campaign uses simple beautiful 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.

"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. "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 "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 a mother, I strongly identified with the creative and message," said the PSAs' director Lisa Rubisch. "I loved how the scripts took a serious subject and were able to impart a lighthearted approach to make it palatable and relatable to viewers who might otherwise look away. The agency and clients were dream collaborators, and I'm really proud of what we were able to achieve creatively."

According to NHTSA, heat can have devastating effects on children, as their bodies warm three to five times faster than adult bodies. If children's body temperatures reach 107 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, it can be fatal. Hot car deaths can happen in vehicles parked in shaded areas in temperatures as low as 60 degrees, even with the windows cracked. Heatstroke occurs in three main scenarios:

  • 52.7% of hot car deaths happened because a child is forgotten in a hot car
  • 25.8% of deaths happened because a child gained access to an unlocked car and became trapped
  • 20.1% of deaths happened because a child was left behind in a vehicle, the parent/caregiver not realizing how quickly internal car temperatures can rise.

At, parents and caregivers can find important information about preventing hot car injury and death, including:

  • Locking your car when you aren't using it. Even if you don't have a child of your own, a child in your neighborhood could get into your unlocked vehicle.
  • Never leaving your child alone in a car, even if you think you'll only be gone for a minute. 
  • Rolling down a window does little to keep a vehicle cool. 
  • Heatstroke can happen even on a relatively cool day. 
  • The inside of a vehicle can reach dangerous temperatures in as little as 10 minutes. 
  • When you're driving with your child, remember to always look before you leave your vehicle to make sure your child has been dropped off at daycare or with a caregiver, not left behind in the car seat. 
  • Keep an item in the back seat, like a teddy bear. Put the bear up front with you when your child is in the car seat to serve as a reminder. Or, put your purse or phone in the back seat with the child. 
  • Some new vehicles come with backseat reminder technology. 
  • And if you see a child in distress in a vehicle – ACT. Call 911 immediately and get help.

About the Ad Council
The Ad Council convenes creative storytellers to educate, unite and uplift audiences by opening hearts, inspiring action and accelerating change around the most pressing issues in America. Since the non-profit's founding, the organization and its partners in advertising, media, marketing and tech have been behind some of the country's most iconic social impact campaigns – Smokey Bear, A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste, Love Has No Labels, Tear the Paper Ceiling and many more. With a current focus on mental health, gun safety, the opioid epidemic, skill-based hiring and other critical issues, the Ad Council's national campaigns encompass advertising and media content, ground game and community efforts, trusted messenger and influencer engagement, and employer programs, among other innovative strategies to move the needle on the most important issues of the day.

To learn more or get involved, visit, join the Ad Council's communities on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X, and view campaign creative on YouTube.

About Chemistry
Chemistry builds brands with creative ideas that can't be ignored. The independent agency offers fully integrated advertising and marketing services for clients like Netflix, Five Guys, Frontdoor, Beyond Meat, MLS, and the NBA. In 2023 the shop was named an Ad Age A-List Agency, a finalist for Campaign US' Independent Agency of the Year and Adweek's Midsize Agency of the Year.

For more than 50 years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has served as the key federal agency charged with improving safety on our nation's roadways. As part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, NHTSA is working to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries by promoting the use of seat belts and child safety seats; helping states and local communities address the threat of distracted, drunk and drug-impaired drivers; regulating vehicle safety standards and investigating safety defects in motor vehicles; establishing and enforcing fuel economy standards; conducting research on driver behavior and traffic safety; and providing consumer information on issues ranging from child passenger safety to impaired driving. For more information visit

SOURCE The Ad Council