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2019’s high rate of hot car deaths pushes auto industry to guarantee back seat alerts

2019-09-08

At the time of publication, 41 children in the U.S. have died in 2019 alone after being left in a hot car, according to KidsandCars.org. (Getty Images/iStock)

Automakers are finally ready to do something about 2019's higher than normal rate of hot car deaths.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers announced in news releases this week that they are voluntarily committing “to add rear seat reminder systems to new vehicles."

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“Under this commitment, automakers will innovate by introducing a wide range of approaches to help parents and caregivers remember to check the back seat as they leave a vehicle,” the release explains.

By model year 2025 or sooner, the release notes, “the auto industry commits to having the rear seat reminder feature in essentially all cars and trucks.”

The announcement came one day after the most recent reported hot car death: a 3-year-old girl in Gilbert, Ariz., about 22 miles southeast of Phoenix.

Miles Harrison, whose adopted son died in 2008 after being left in a hot car, told BBC News it isn’t enough.

“This system doesn’t detect anything,” Harrison said. “You could have a watermelon on the back seat. It doesn’t detect that there is a living being there.”

According to BBC, the alert is activated when the rear door is opened before a journey, but is disabled if you briefly exit the vehicle.

“If you make a stop on the way, the system is useless,” Harrison said. “Then you get distracted, and you go to work. Which is what happened."

The national average is 38 hot car deaths per year, which was far surpassed in 2018 a record of 53 deaths recorded.

As of Friday, the National Safety Council reports that 40 children in the U.S. have died in 2019 after being left in a hot vehicle. Their ages, according to KidsAndCars.org, range from 2 months to 13 years.

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