Nearly 40 children die of heatstroke each year after being left behind in vehicles, according to one estimate. Automaker General Motors wants to reduce that figure with a new feature that reminds drivers to check the back seat before leaving their car.
One thing that new parents might not realize is that leaving children in the backseat of a vehicle can cause heatstroke in the summer months, which can result in death. The company included a new feature on the 2017 GMC Acadia; Similar to the “Fasten Seatbelt” reminder, a warning tone will sound, accompanied by a speedometer reminder to “Look In
Rear Seat” when the driver is leaving the auto. However, it doesn’t use in-seat sensors or other tools or computer logic to ascertain what is in the back seat.
The Rear Seat Reminder plays a sound and displays a dashboard message when a driver is leaving his or her car after opening the back seat before they first set off.The system is also activated if the doors are opened and closed while the engine is running. Rear Seat Reminder will emit five chimes and display a message in the instrument binnacle.
Tricia Morrow, an engineer working on vehicle safety at GM who brought the new reminder to fruition says:
“As a mother, I can’t imagine leaving my kids in the back seat of a car.But I know it can happen, and I know our lives are so scheduled to the last minute, we felt we needed to do something.”
To be sure, it’s easy to see a driver disregarding the Rear Seat Reminder as just another alert. But Morrow is optimistic that the feature might cut down on the grim statistics surrounding the number of children — and pets — who die as a result of what’s called “vehicular heatstroke.”
“We just want you to take a really quick look in the back seat, just as a first step in combating this heat stroke issue,” she says.