Rather than wait for government rules that traditionally take four to eight years to finalize, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers have voluntarily committed to put life-saving rear-seat reminder systems in essentially all cars and trucks by model year 2025 or sooner.
These devices help parents and caregivers remember to check the back seat as they exit to ensure no child or pet is left behind in a hot car.
At a minimum, they will include a combination of auditory and visual alerts that will activate after a driver turns off the engine.
Between 1998 and 2018, an average of 38 children have died from heatstroke while sitting in a vehicle in the U.S. alone—including a record 53 last year—according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the noheatstroke.org website.
Babies and toddlers are particularly at risk because their bodies can heat up three to five times faster than adults.
“Automakers have been exploring ways to address this safety issue and this commitment underscores how such innovations and increased awareness can help children right now,” said Alliance Interim President and CEO David Schwietert. “Automakers have come together to develop a pathway forward, which not only incorporates existing systems, but also supports new, innovative approaches.”
Over the past few years, various car brands including GMC, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and Subaru and have implemented some form of rear-seat alert technology. The notifications, which are triggered when the car senses weight in the rear seat, can be seen through the instrument cluster or heard with an audible sound—or both.
Members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers account for nearly 100 percent of all passenger vehicles sold in North America.
Although their commitment applies to new vehicles in the future, there are also several cell phone apps available as well as some child car seats that include alarm features that can help remind drivers there’s a child in the vehicle.
It’s also a good idea to put something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination.
And if you ever see a child alone in a car, hot day or not, call 9-1-1. Emergency services are trained to respond to these situations.