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Car Alarms to Save Kids from Heatstroke Deaths

By Auto Tech Outlook | Monday, September 09, 2019

All the cars in the U.S. will get equipped with rear-seat occupant alarm by 2025, still the agreement fall short of addressing tragedies.

FREMONT, CA: Major automakers have come forward to avoid deaths of young children left behind in hot cars. They have agreed to endow all U.S. vehicles with systems to remind motorists of passengers in the back seat, by the model year 2025. U.S. Congress has been debating the issue of so-called rear seat reminder systems.

The Senate Commerce Committee passed by voice vote legislation to eventually require automakers to install the technology on vehicles alerting parents to check for children in the rear seat. Cars will start rolling with reminders by 2020.

There are two groups The Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in the U.S. market that include nearly every carmaker. They have agreed to put rear-seat occupant alerts into their entire passenger-car fleets. Some cars already possess' rear-seat signals installed in them, and others are on the way to induce this new system. The twenty automakers, including General Motors, Ford Motor, Volkswagen Group, Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda, have agreed to install reminders to stop heatstroke deaths. 

This alert system would give drivers audible and visual alerts to check back seats every time before turning off the ignition. It will adopt the reminder technology on all vehicles worldwide. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2018, a large number of kids were left in hot cars. 

The three primary reasons for the tragedies are the following. If a child gets into the vehicle and gets trapped; if an adult forgets a child in a car; and the worst-case is one in which an adult purposely leaves a child. To stay away from such situations, it is better to invest in car seat alarms. According to a report by lawmakers, more than seven hundred children have died in the U.S. over the last two decades due to hot temperature in the parked cars.

If we look at the other side, we can easily conclude that one cannot depend on these technologies. The voluntary agreement announced falls short of addressing hot car tragedies effectively and comprehensively. Pure audio and visual reminder is not enough. There is a need for a system that can detect the presence of a child inside a vehicle. These 'detection' systems are readily available and affordable. 

Miles Harrison, a father who lost his son, Chase, after he inadvertently left him in his car while he worked all day in Virginia, says, “A simple alert to check the back seat would not have saved my son's life. A system like that doesn't detect anything. It can't distinguish between a watermelon and a living, breathing person, and it gives parents a false sense of hope that their child will be protected.”

The public needs to understand that "voluntary agreements" do not protect them. They are non-binding and unenforceable. Depending completely on technology alone is too negligent when it comes to the matter of children.

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