Sep 4, 2019
In a step toward greater safety leadership, several influential automakers announced that they have agreed to furnish nearly all U.S. vehicles with systems to caution drivers of riders in the back seat, by the model year 2025, to avoid deaths of young children left behind in hot cars accidentally.
The announcement on so-called rear seat warning systems comes as the U.S. Congress has been discussing making it a required provision for new cars. Lawmakers say more than 800 children in left vehicles have died from heatstroke in the United States in the last twenty years. U.S. regulators say 53 died last year, the largest in two decades. The 20 automakers taking part serve nearly 98% of all U.S. vehicle sales and committed to incorporating both audible and visual alerts on vehicles by the 2025 model year, or a year later if a redesign is included. The automakers include General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co, Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corp, Hyundai Motor Co, and Honda Motor Co Ltd. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it will ultimately use the reminder technology on all vehicles worldwide but said timing by country will differ, while in July Hyundai said it would make the system permanent on most U.S. vehicles by 2022. GM has had a method on some U.S. vehicles since 2016 that provides a safety system audible alert and a visual warning on the vehicle dashboard to check for a child's presence before exiting. The systems usually work to signal a driver to the presence of a child if a rear door was opened at the origin of a ride. Some vehicles have ultrasonic sensors that can identify the movements of kids and pets; a Hyundai system will sound the horn and send an innovative safety warning to the driver’s smartphone if it detects movement. U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican who chairs the Commerce Committee, said in an interview the optional arrangement makes the legislation irrelevant. Under the law being considered, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would be forced to write statutes and then automakers would have at least two years’ lead time. “This gives us essentially everything we’ve asked for and it does it sooner,” said Wicker. “It is a huge win.” NHTSA plans to increase its stake in its annual heatstroke recognition campaign “Where’s Baby” and intends to gather automakers, technology companies, safety consultants, child product manufacturers and others for a safety leadership summit later this month. NHTSA typically takes years to write statutes. For example, a proposal to require automakers to send e-mail warnings of recalls has been pending for over three full years. Wicker’s bill would also order states to use a part of highway safety program endowments to instruct the public on the safety risks of leaving a child or abandoned passenger in a car and order the Transportation Department to request a study on retrofitting current passenger motor vehicles. Also, they requested Congress should pursue legislation that requires these businesses to take the required actions to safeguard children and hold the companies accountable for the safety of their cars.
Major automakers said on Wednesday they have agreed to equip nearly all U.S. vehicles with systems to remind motorists of passengers in the back seat, by model year 2025, in an effort to avoid deaths of young children left behind in hot cars.
The announcement on so-called rear seat reminder systems comes as the U.S. Congress has been debating making it a requirement for new cars.
Lawmakers say more than 800 children in parked vehicles have died from heatstroke in the United States over the last two decades. U.S. regulators say 53 died last year, the most in two decades.
The 20 automakers taking part represent nearly 98% of all U.S. vehicle sales and committed to include audible and visual alerts on vehicles by the 2025 model year, or a year later if a redesign is involved.