Several automakers announced Wednesday that they will start equipping their U.S. vehicles with systems to remind drivers if they have passengers in the back seat to avoid the deaths of young children left in cars on hot days.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers accounts “for nearly 100 percent of U.S. light-duty vehicle sales,” according to its Wednesday statement, including the BMW group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Kia, Nissan and Ferrari, among others.
The organizations pledged to install a variety of features, including “auditory and visual alerts,” to remind parents and caregivers to check the back seat for children when they leave a car. For example, GM currently has a system on some U.S. vehicles that provides an audible alert and a reminder on a vehicle’s dashboard to check for a child before exiting a car, according to Reuters.
The companies pledged to instal the feature in “essentially all cars and trucks by Model Year 2025 or sooner,” in the Thursday statement.
“Automakers have been exploring ways to address this safety issue and this commitment underscores how such innovations and increased awareness can help children right now,” Alliance interim President and CEO David Schwietert said in the Thursday statement. “Automakers have come together to develop a pathway forward, which not only incorporates existing systems, but also supports new, innovative approaches.”
John Bozzella, president and CEO of Global Automakers, said that “Children die each year from heatstroke suffered when left unattended in the back seat of passenger vehicles. As most of these deaths are caused by children being unintentionally left in vehicles, our members are taking action to help prevent these tragic losses by adding rear-seat reminder systems to prompt parents and caregivers to check the back seat before exiting their car."
Light-duty vehicles can include passenger cars, vans, pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The Thursday statement did not specify which kinds of cars would be specifically targeted under the new initiative.
In July, the Senate Commerce Committee approved approved legislation to require automakers to install the technology in vehicles in the future, and a companion bill was introduced in the House. Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Senators: US allies concerned Senate won't pass annual defense bill Overnight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' MORE (R-Miss.), the sponsor of the Senate legislation, called the Thursday announcement “a huge win.”
“This gives us essentially everything we’ve asked for and it does it sooner,” Wicker said, according to Reuters.
According to NoHeatStroke.org, 38 children have died from “pediatric vehicular deaths” in 2019, and nearly 835 have died since 1998.