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Automakers agree to add system to prevent hot car deaths

Vehicles produced after 2025 will provide visual and sound cues to drivers

Photo (c) Jodi Jacobson - Getty Images
Nearly all automakers plan to add a system to prevent parents and caretakers from leaving children in hot vehicles.

The system slated to be added to “nearly 100 percent of U.S. light-duty vehicles” by model year 2025 would give drivers auditory and visual alerts that remind them to check the back seat before exiting the car, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers said in a statement on Wednesday. 

“At a minimum, these prompts will include a combination of auditory and visual alerts that will activate after a driver turns off the vehicle,” the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said. “With this pledge, the auto industry commits to having the rear seat reminder feature in essentially all cars and trucks by Model Year 2025 or sooner.” 

Preventing deaths

Many major automakers -- including General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda -- have all agreed to equip cars with rear seat reminder systems. Tesla has not yet indicated that it will equip its cars with the system. 

Since 1989, there have been almost 900 heat stroke-related deaths among children in parked cars in the U.S., according to the website, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing deaths of young children and pets in and around vehicles. Almost 50 deaths occurred last year, and 37 have occurred in 2019. 

“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,” said David Schwietert, interim CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

The voluntary agreement announced on Wednesday would ensure that the systems get added sooner rather than later. Government regulation typically takes four to eight years. 

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers noted that there are several smartphone apps that can also provide reminders to check the back seat. Waze, for example, has a “Child Reminder” feature which can be found on the settings page under “Reminders.” Some child car seats also include alarm features that can remind drivers that there is a child in the car. 

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