The safety of children should be a major priority, and this week the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Auto Alliance) and the Association of Global Automakers acted on that sentiment. It announced a voluntarily agreed-upon commitment to make rear-seat reminders and alerts standard features on "essentially all cars and trucks by Model Year 2025 or sooner." The efforts aim to eliminate harm, or death, to kids left in cars in extreme weather conditions.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and noheatstroke.org, 53 children died in 2018 due to heatstroke while sitting inside of a vehicle. Through September 3, 2019, there have already been another 38 deaths, which is the yearly average between 1998 and 2018.
These tragedies have prompted several manufacturers to offer and implement a relatively new automobile feature known as a rear-seat reminder or rear-seat alert. The notifications can be seen through an infotainment screen or heard with an audible sound (or both) and remind the driver to check the backseat. The reminder is signaled when the car senses weight in the rear seats and is prompted when the car's ignition is turned off.
Even before this agreement, many manufacturers had already set forth with the same plan of action. GMC was one of the first when it introduced the feature in 2016. Hyundai said it will make the feature standard starting with 2022 model year vehicles. New Subarus such as the 2020 Forester will have the feature standard, the company recently announced. The topic became such an issue that Congress got involved. It seems the auto manufacturers heard the outcries and are heeding the suggestions.
The Auto Alliance represents approximately 70 percent of all cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. and includes BMW Group, FCA US LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Car USA. With the Association of Global Automakers, that percentage nears 100. The Association includes Aston Martin, Bosch, Byton, Denso, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Isuzu, Local Motors, Maserati, McLaren, Nissan, PSA North America, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota.
According to the Auto Alliance, this agreement will speed up the process faster than something delegated by government rules, which typically take four to eight years to complete. For more information on heatstroke and how to prevent it, visit the Association or the Auto Alliance.