According to the National Safety Council, 37 children die every year from being left in a hot car. Safety supporters are satisfied as automaker Nissan claimed plans on Tuesday to make rear door alerts standard in eight vehicle types by model year 2019.
This new technology update will notify drivers if the rear door was opened before a trip but not reopened after the car is parked and the ignition is off, with a display in the instrument panel and a series of specific honks. According to Nissan, the company’s goal is to have the rear door alerts in all four-door trucks, sedans and SUVs by model year 2022.
According to Marlene Mendoza, a mechanical engineer at Nissan who helped develop the technology with fellow engineer and mother, Elsa Foley, “We kept reading all these incidences of children accidentally left in car and we were really worried. Is there something we can do”
In 2014, they started brainstorming and working on the idea of preventing this problem, after Mendoza was pregnant and accidentally left a pan of lasagna in her backseat overnight. She claimed that her car smelled for days after, which made her wonder what would happen if she left something or someone more important back there. “It can help so many people at different levels,” she stated.
Some car manufacturers like GMC and Hyundai already created a rear seat reminder feature in most of their 2018 model. Although the innovation of having rear seat reminders might be able to help with this problem, it might not be enough. Milesa Harrison, one of the hundreds of parents and caregivers who have lost a child to vehicular heatstroke, states “I think all alert systems can helpful, but alert systems alone will not work. It needs to be an alert system and a regular messaging system somehow.”
Amber Rollins, director of KidsAndCars.org, claims “We’ve introduced the Hot Cars Act and it would require a reminder alert system in all new vehicles to prevent hot ar deaths. It’s not a prescriptive bill, so it doesn’t call for any specific type of technology but it calls for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take a look at what’s available and decide what the best solution would be.”