The world is full of distractions, and forgetting something in the backseat of your car is normal. But if that “something” is a child, the results are tragic. On a hot day the inside of an automobile heats to furnance-like temperatures – hot enough that a child forgotten inside can quickly die. An average of 37 children have died this way every year since 1998, with the majority of those being under 4.
Of those children, more than half were simply forgotten about by a parent or caregiver, the very person who strapped them into a safety seat. These tragedies happen more frequently when there’s a change of routine…a different route, or a parent who normally isn’t tasked with driving the child to daycare.
Carmaker General Motors thinks that a well-timed warning might be the difference between life and death.
They are introducing a feature on their new 2017 GMC Acadia to help prevent this type of incident. Similar to a seat belt reminder, a warning tone will sound and a reminder to “Look in the Rear Seat” will appear in the center of Acadia’s speedometer. Drivers who don’t want the feature will have the ability to turn it off but it will be turned on by default on every new Acadia that leaves the GM factory.
The warning feature uses the same back door sensors that tell you a door is open when you’re driving. If the sensors detect a back door being opened and closed before the driver gets in and starts the engine, or any time the engine is running, the back seat warning is triggered.
GM says that this feature is not optional and will be included on all new Acadias. They plan to introduce the same feature on other four-door GM car models in the future.
In the meantime, GM’s global safety strategy engineer Tricia Morrow suggests that parents who are carrying a small child in the backseat should put a laptop, cell phone or other important item they will need at their destination in the backseat so that they will always remember to check there on arrival.