Technology that could easily prevent tragic child hot car deaths is already available, but it just hasn’t been installed in all vehicles, according to an NBC news report. Earlier this month, Hyundai Motor Group, which has optional ultrasonic rear-seat sensors in two of its most popular family cars, announced it would expand the number of SUVs in which it offers the option. This feature, which essentially sounds a loud alarm, when a child is left in the rear seat of the vehicle, provides an extra layer of protection against what many parents believe could happen to them.
The Need for an Audible Alarm
Hyundai introduced the technology last year and says it is the only automaker to use it so far. Hyundai says this technology, which alerts parents about children left behind in vehicles, could save the lives of many children and even pets who are absent-mindedly left in back seats – often with deadly consequences. The automaker said it would also make the door-logic system standard on most of its new vehicles by 2022.
This system detects if a rear door is opened or closed before the car is started and then displays a message on the center cluster for the driver to check the rear seat before exiting the vehicle. A number of other car manufacturers such as GM and Nissan have similar door-sequencing rear-occupant alerts. But parents say a message on the dashboard is often not enough to jog their memory. A loud, blaring horn or alarm, they say, will do the job better.
Hot car deaths are entirely preventable, but each year a number of children die as a result of being left in hot cars. According to the safety advocacy website KidsandCars.org, since 1990, more than 900 children have died in hot cars. Already this year, there have been at least 26 child deaths from vehicular heatstroke including infant twins whose father, Juan Rodrigues, left them strapped in their car seats when he went to work at a Bronx hospital on July 26. Congress is considering the Hot Cars Act of 2019, which would mandate all new cars be equipped with a reminder system for drivers to check for rear-seat passengers.
Preventing Hot Car Deaths
Here are a few quick tips to prevent these tragic incidents:
- Always check the back seat to make sure all children are out.
- Avoid distractions while driving especially cell phone use.
- Be extra cautious when there is a change in your routine such as when someone else is driving your child or if you take a different route to work or childcare.
- Have your childcare provider call if you child is more than 10 minutes late.
- Put your purse or wallet in the back seat so you are forced to check when you arrive at your destination.