Safety First News
Dying In Hot Cars - Technology Helps Prevent Forgetting Children
July 3, 2016
General Motors announced earlier this year it will introduce a new safety system to remind drivers to check for children in the rear seats, and that it could eventually develop features to detect forgotten children.
The 2017 Acadia SUV that includes what GM says is an industry-first feature that will alert drivers who had opened the back door at the start of a trip to check the back seat once they get to their destination.
"Too many children are inadvertently left behind in vehicles, often with tragic results,” said GM product planning chief, Mark Reuss. “It’s hard to fathom but it does happen, leading to dozens of fatal heat strokes in children under 14 every year."
The system "does not detect the presence of a child in the back seat but as a simple extra reminder to look in the rear seat on the way out of the vehicle regardless of what may be there," Reuss said.
While the new GM system won’t be able to sense if a child has been left behind, Reuss said GM could eventually add that capability in later models.
Between 1998 and 2014, there were an average of 38 U.S. deaths a year in hot cars, according to San Jose State University. Around half were children accidentally left in hot cars, 29 percent were children playing in unattended cars and 18 percent were intentionally left behind. That means a technological fix would likely address only about half of the total deaths associated with forgetting children in hot vehicles.