General Motors has just introduced a feature they call the “Rear Seat Reminder” for their U.S. customers. This feature prompts drivers to check the back seat as they leave their vehicles under specific conditions. This technology is believed to be the first of its kind in the automobile industry. There have been too many tragic stories of children being left in cars and dying while their parents run errands. About half of the children under age 14 who die of heatstroke in cars are actually forgotten. From 1998 to the present, 673 children have died from heatstroke after being left in cars, 54 percent being forgotten. The consumer website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes the extreme temperatures that the interior of vehicles can reach. It only takes ten minutes for the temperature inside a vehicle to rise over 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if it’s 60 degrees outside, the temperature inside a vehicle can be as high as 110 degrees.
Although parents or pet owners may not even consider the hazards of temperature when it’s a breezy 60 degrees outside, children and pets can easily die of heatstroke if left in cars for any amount of time. In addition to this negligence, belongings left in the back seat of cars are often targets for theft. Almost 23 percent of theft in 2014 involved items from a motor vehicle. Spreading this kind of awareness of the dangers of leaving children and belongings in cars can prevent unnecessary deaths or robberies, but GM goes further by trying to prevent deaths from busy parents who genuinely forget their children through their new Rear Seat Reminder feature. GM global safety strategy engineer Tricia Morrow states, “Whether it’s your lunch, laptop, pet or most importantly, your child, it’s easier than it seems to forget what’s in the back seat when moving between life’s events.” This new feature will appear as a standard feature first in GM’s 2017 GMC Acadia SUV to U.S. customers.
The Rear Seat Reminder does not prompt the driver every time he or she uses the car. There are certain circumstances which the car can detect and will then remind the driver to look in the back seat. The specifics include the vehicle’s self-monitoring of its rear doors. The feature is triggered if the rear doors are opened and closed within ten minutes before the vehicle is turned on or if they are opened and closed when the vehicle has already started. If one of these situations occurs, the next time the vehicle is turned off, it sounds five rings and presents a message reading, “Rear Seat Reminder/Look in Rear Seat.” Katie Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, urges that this feature does not solve the issue of heatstroke by leaving young children in the car. The technology does not detect if there are objects in the rear seats. Therefore, it is imperative that you always check the back seat of your car especially if you have children or pets even if you own a car with this feature