The RACQ Temperature in Cars Survey has highlighted the risks of leaving babies and young children unattended in vehicles, even for a short time.

A range of tests were conducted by the Club to measure the interior temperatures of parked cars. The results showed temperatures rose quickly to a point that exceeded safe levels for occupants. 

Importantly, the tests showed that there is no safe situation in which to leave children unattended in a vehicle. We also found:
  • Across the range of tests, in every situation the interior temperature not only peaked at a level far in excess of what is considered safe for a child, it did so within a matter of minutes.
  • Temperature took as little as one to two minutes to rise from air-conditioned levels to ambient and as little as seven minutes to reach 40 degrees. In the opinion of Medical experts, temperatures exceeding 40 degrees can lead to death or serious injury for the occupants.
  • During one test the temperature peaked at 75.1 degrees centigrade, with the surface temperature of the steering wheel reaching 82.6 degrees. The average ambient temperature on the test day was 32.5 degrees – typical of a Brisbane summer day.
  • Our testing showed that regardless of whether the vehicle was light or dark in colour, had tinted windows or a sunshade, the actual peak temperatures varied by only a few degrees. Leaving the windows slightly open did not reduce the cabin temperatures by any significant amount.
  • Even when parked in the shade, we recorded cabin temperatures exceeding 40 degrees.

Tips to avoid problems (including accidental lock-ins)

  • Always take the child with you – even if you only intend to leave the car for a brief time.
  • Keep the keys with the driver – never leave them with the child, in the ignition or place them on a seat.
  • Never let children play with keys or access an unattended vehicle.
  • Check the vehicle is empty before remote locking – it is easy to make a mistake and accidentally lock them in.

Importantly, if you do have kids locked in a car or vehicle

  1. Keep calm
  2. Think clearly and act quickly 
  3. Call 13 1111 immediately for roadside assistance
  4. Call 000 immediately for Emergency Services with any concerns about the child’s health

More information

For more information you can contact RACQ motoring advice or email a question.

Click to read The RACQ Temperature in Cars Survey (PDF, 2.06MB)

Babies locked in cars

This is a real emergency phone call to RACQ, demonstrating how easy a baby can unintentionally be locked in a car. RACQ receives four to five calls every single day to rescue a child locked in a car.

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