NEW YORK — Each year, dozens of children across the country die after being left in hot cars. That’s prompted several car makers to create backseat alarms that some argue could be as life-saving as a seat belt.
In Phoenix, police officers responded to not one but two hot car deaths on the same day this past July. Both babies were forgotten in cars with temperatures reaching into the high 90’s.
The group Kids and Cars said so far this year 36 children have died this way, and automakers want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“They’re absolutely heartbreaking.”
Elsa Foley, manager of the OEM Business Development Group at Nissan, developed the company’s new rear door alert system. It monitors if a back door is opened before driving and notifies the driver if the rear door is not reopened after parking in two different ways.
“There are multiple phases of warnings, and the first alert is right here on the dashboard?”
After a few seconds, the horn begins to honk multiple times, Foley explained.
“That’s what calls your attention back to say maybe I forgot something.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal wants to see this kind of technology in every new vehicle. He recently introduced legislation that would require car makers to install alerts. So far, it has the backing of more than two dozen child and road safety groups.
“Consumers should want this product just as they do seat belts and air bags,” the senator said.
General Motors already has a back seat reminder available in several of its vehicles, and Nissan is trying out its new alert in the 2018 Pathfinders.
Foley said while it not a solution, the new technology provides on more thing that can potentially save a child’s life.