Every summer we find ourselves hearing about children who have died after being left behind in hot cars, and it’s no different this year: 12 kids have died from heatstroke in cars, safety advocates say. In an effort to prevent those deaths, GM has unveiled a new feature that will let drivers know when someone has been left behind in the car.
The new feature will be intruded on the 2017 GMC Acadia, and works like a seat belt reminder: a warning tone sounds and alerts drivers to “Look In Rear Seat,” with a message flashing in the center of the vehicle’s speedometer.
The feature will be included by default in all new Acadias, GM’s global safety strategy engineer Tricia Morrow told CNNMoney, though you can shut it off if you choose to do so. The company says it will integrate the tool into other four-door GM models in the future.
“It was designed in response to the tremendous amount of heatstroke deaths that we see every year,” Morrow told Today.com. “We saw this as a problem for the industry.”
KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit child safety organization, applauded the feature, while challenging all automakers to provide technology in their vehicles to help prevent kids from being left behind.
“Though this may not be the complete answer, it certainly holds great promise, and is an important step forward,” Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org said. “Adding a new safety system that reminds drivers to check for children in rear seats certainly has the potential to save lives.”
“The exciting GM announcement is an ‘industry first’ technology that should also be provided on all 2017 vehicles, not just one,” she added.
Consumer Reports recently weighed in on another company’s efforts to cut down on hot car deaths, noting that the Evenflo car seat that reminds drivers when a child is left sitting in the car is a promising product, but isn’t perfect yet.