With more than 90 children dying in hot cars in the U.S. since 2018, a group of automakers has voluntarily agreed to place rear-seat reminder systems in virtually every new car sold in the U.S. by the 2025 model year, according to Consumer Reports.
The systems are aimed at preventing children being accidentally left behind in hot cars.
The new agreement reportedly includes many large automakers, including domestic car companies General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford, and foreign-based companies such as Honda, Nissan, and Toyota.
At a minimum, drivers would get a combination of audible and visual alerts once the vehicle has been turned off.
However, some industry experts warn that this agreement would not be enforced by the federal government, and does not include technology that actively monitors a vehicle for the presence of a child and that automakers should install integrated features that remind drivers to check for—or alert them to the presence of—children in the backseat.
General Motors was the first to introduce a system that uses door logic— it determines whether a rear door was opened 10 minutes before the vehicle is turned on or anytime after the vehicle is turned on. Drivers get a reminder message in the gauge cluster after the engine is turned off, and the system also sounds chimes.
Other automakers also use door logic systems in a few models on sale today, including Hyundai, Kia, and Nissan, although there are some differences in implementation. Those automakers, GM and Honda, have all announced that they would put these systems into most four-door vehicles by the end of 2022. This new agreement sets a longer timeline for implementation for automakers that haven’t yet made a commitment, but it also dramatically expands the number of car companies involved.
Nonprofit Kids and Car Safety says Texas has the highest number of hot car deaths in the country. Nationwide, 56% of hot car deaths happen when a child is accidentally left in a car. Twenty-six percent when a child gets in themselves and can’t get out.
“Most people don’t realize that the majority of the increase in temperature inside of a car happens within the first 10 minutes,” said Amber Rollins with Kids and Car Safety. “Their little bodies heat up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult.”
Rollins says kids should know three things:
- How to honk the horn
- How to turn on flashers
- How to unlock a front door if they can’t get out of a back one