In plans announced earlier this month, U.S. Automakers said they want to implement reminder systems in new cars to help prevent hot car-related deaths.
Tragically, hot care deaths have been in the news a lot over the summer, meaning the lives of numerous children have been lost. What can be done to prevent these totally preventable deaths, though? Why are so many children, some just mere babies, being forgotten in cars? Fortunately, there are plans in the works to do something about this alarming issue. For example, the Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, “whose members account for nearly 100% of automobile sales within the United States,” have plans to ensure that almost every “new vehicle in the country will include a Rear Seat Reminder System within the next six years.”
According to the association, the current plan is to ensure the new reminder system is installed in all new vehicles “by Model Year 2025, if not sooner.” When commenting on the matter, David Schwietert, the Alliance interim president and CEO said:
“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.”
The Alliance’s plans are the result of many prominent voices, including elected officials, calling for improved safety measures and other solutions to help save children from hot car deaths. When chiming in on the matter, John Bozzella, president and CEO of Global Automakers said:
“Children die each year from heatstroke suffered when left unattended in the back seat of passenger vehicles. As most of these deaths are caused by children being unintentionally left in vehicles, our members are taking action to help prevent these tragic losses by adding rear-seat reminder systems to prompt parents and caregivers to check the back seat before exiting their car.”
What will be included in the reminder systems, though? How will they prevent unnecessary deaths? For starters, the systems are expected to include “at a minimum, both auditory and visual notifications alerting the driver of a passenger in the rear seat.”
Work on the plans began soon after State Sen. David Carlucci, D-Rockland/Westchester proposed legislation known as the Heatstroke Elimination Awareness Technology (HEAT) Act. According to Carlucci, his proposal would “require vehicle manufacturers to install a rear seat detection system in every vehicle sold in the state of New York.” He said:
“Being a parent, and seeing what happened to a New City father, motivated me to bring this legislation forward. We know the technology exists, and it’s time that a rear-seat detection system comes standard on vehicles, just like seat belts or airbags.”
It is the hope of Carlucci and others that legislation like the one he proposed will help save lives. Too many young lives have already been lost. According to numbers from KidsAndCars.org, “more than 900 children have died in hot cars across the country since 1990.” Last year was the deadliest year so far and resulted in 53 children dying of heatstroke in a vehicle. KidsAndCars.org specializes in educating members of the public on the risks associated with leaving children unattended to in vehicles.
Until legislation passes or the plans set out by the Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers become reality, there are a few ways parents and caregivers can help keep children safe, including the following:
- Do not leave children alone in vehicles
- Keep vehicles locked when not in use
- Do not allow children to play in vehicle
- Check the back seats before locking the vehicle