The Rear Seat Occupant Alert System: A Lifesaving Technology

Children and hot cars are a potentially life-threatening combination. According to the National Safety Council, an average of 38 children die every year from heatstroke due to being left in a vehicle. This issue spiked in 2018 when 58 deaths were reported.

No parent intends to let such an incident happen to their child, but accidents happen, and not just on a hot day. Consumer Reports studies show that internal temperatures of a parked car can reach dangerous levels, even with outside temperatures as low as 61°F.

As a protective measure, vehicle manufacturers are implementing a new in their latest models: the rear seat occupant alert system. This alert system has various technologies depending on the vehicle manufacturer to protect occupants from accidentally being left in a vehicle.

Quick Note: Larson & Miller Injury Law is located in Springfield, Missouri, so contact us if you have any questions regarding your car accident.

Making the Push Towards Safer Vehicles

Automotive manufacturers like General Motors, Toyota, Nissan, Kia, and Hyundai now offer cars with a rear seat occupant alert system. The various technologies used for this system vary depending on the car model and may include:

Rear-Door Logic

Rear door logic detects if the vehicle owner opens or closes the back door before starting the car. After driving the vehicle, the system reminds the driver to check their rear seat by leaving them a message or a warning as they exit their vehicle.

Motion Detection

Some vehicles use a sensor that detects motion within the interior for a set amount of time. If this technology senses movement, like an uncomfortable child, it alerts the vehicle’s owner by honking the horn, flashing the headlights, or even sending an email or text message.

Camera Systems

Apart from conventional rear seat occupant alert systems, some vehicle models may also provide drivers with a camera view of their backseat. This technology adds another reminder for the driver and also doubles as a convenient way to check on the rear seat’s occupants.

A New Bill Is Underway

Lawmakers from both parties of the United States Congress are working on the Hot Cars Act of 2019. Both the Senate and House bill will require vehicles to have a system that prompts their drivers to check the rear seats after turning off the engine or motor. This bill won’t just benefit children; it will also protect pets and vulnerable adults who can be potential victims of hot car deaths.

As soon as this bill passes, rear seat occupant alert systems will become an industry standard. However, it might take some time before it becomes law. The auto industry is committed to implementing rear occupancy alert systems, both auditory and visual, in all model cars by the 2025 model year.

Opposing Parties

Established groups like the Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers have announced their voluntary commitment to implement rear-seat reminder systems.

However, it wasn’t that long ago when their position was the exact opposite. Before the inception of the Hot Cars Act, many automakers claimed that educating parents about the dangers of leaving their children in vehicles unattended was enough.

These manufacturers were well aware that implementing simple technologies could prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths but argued against the advancement of these features. In some cases, if victims suffer a child’s death, it might have sufficient grounds for filing a claim against the auto manufacturer.

Filing a Claim for Your Losses

If your child sustained an injury or passed away after being left in a hot car, seeking legal assistance might be a necessary step towards seeking compensation for your damages. Whether the incident stemmed from a negligent caretaker or a vehicle lacking a rear occupant alert system, our experienced team can help you determine if there is a claim.  If necessary, we will thoroughly examine the accident site, collect evidence, and document details that may aid your case.   If we identify a potential product liability claim, we may associate with co-counsel versed in that specific product defect to insure you get solid legal representation in your particular case. 

At Larson & Miller Injury Law, we offer our dedication and compassion to every client. Our attorneys will review your case and recommend a potential course of action. Call us at 417-890-6677 today for your free consultation.