New safety technology to prevent hot car deaths may not go far enough

New safety technology to prevent hot car deaths may not go far enough

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - More than 50 parents and family members of children who died in hot cars are behind a new push to ask automakers to add what could be lifesaving technology.

The parents are sending this letter to GM’s CEO asking the company to fulfill a promised made back in 2001 to add technology to its vehicles that can detect whether there’s a child in your backseat.

“Every day that passes where we don’t have this technology in all vehicles, children are at risk,” warned Amber Rollins from KidsandCars.org.

GM and Nissan plan to make standard a feature that tracks if you open a rear door before starting the car, then alerts you when you exit the vehicle to remind you to check the backseat, but advocacy group Kids and Cars says that’s not good enough.

“They really can’t tell if you put a box of chocolates or a child in the backseat,” Rollins warned. “If a parent was driving their child to daycare on the way to work and they stopped to get gas, if they don’t open that backdoor again while they’re stopped to get gas, they’re not gonna get the reminder when they get to work to check their backseat.”

Advocates say the biggest danger could be a false sense of security.

“That’s one of our biggest concerns with these door sequencing systems is people believe they’re protected and they’re gonna get a reminder alert when they get to their final destination to check their backseat, and that might not always happen,” Rollins said.

Kids and Cars also says 1/3 of hot car deaths happen when children get into cars by themselves and end up trapped. That’s why they want manufacturers to install motion sensing technology that KIA and Hyundai now offer on some SUV models, and plan to expand to other vehicles soon.

“Just this month, eight children have died in hot cars, this is not a problem that’s going away,” said Rollins. “Education and awareness have been happening for 20 plus years, it’s not enough.”

So far this year, Kids and Cars reports 35 children have died in hot cars, including a little boy in Dothan in July, and two children on the same day last Friday - 1 in New Jersey, the other in Mississippi.

Kids and Cars said Ford, Toyota, and Honda don’t offer even door sequencing technology right now, but they say if you want to help make a change to contact your representatives and senators and ask them to pass the Hot Cars Act that would mandate this technology.

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