It's a first for the automotive industry and will become a standard feature in an effort to save lives. Called the “Rear Seat Reminder” it will remind drivers to check the back seat as they exit their vehicle under certain circumstances and is being introduced on the new 2017 GMC Acadia models first.
Each year about half of the children under age 14 who die of in-vehicle heatstroke do so as a result of being forgotten, according to NoHeatStroke.org. 24 deaths in North Carolina, between 1998 through 2015, tie the Tarheel state with Georgia as the 5th highest for deaths behind Texas (100), Florida (72), California (44) and Arizona (30).
Also, items left in the back seat are a target for theft. Nearly 23 percent of larceny in 2014 was from a motor vehicle, according to the FBI.
“Acadia drivers live busy lives with demanding schedules, and the Rear Seat Reminder helps protect the things we care about most,” said Tricia Morrow, GM global safety strategy engineer. “Whether it’s your lunch, laptop, pet or most importantly, your child, it’s easier than it seems to forget what’s in the back seat when moving between life’s events. With this new feature, we are leading the charge to address this ongoing problem.”
The Rear Seat Reminder works by monitoring the Acadia’s rear doors. The feature is intended to activate when either rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or if they are opened and closed while the vehicle is running. Under these circumstances, the next time the vehicle is turned off after a door activation, the Acadia is designed to sound five audible chimes and display a message in the driver information center that reads, “Rear Seat Reminder / Look in Rear Seat.”
“General Motors has developed a new technology for the GMC Acadia, the Rear Seat Reminder, to give busy parents an important reminder to check the back seat before leaving the car,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Technology alone cannot solve the issue of heatstroke when it comes to young children, but this new Acadia reminder can help. We must always remember that the safest way to protect a child from heatstroke is to never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.”
The feature cannot detect items in the backseat, so it is always important to check the rear seat prior to exiting the vehicle. GM has not given a timetable as to when the feature will be available on other models.
Photos: General Motors