In an effort to prevent child heatstroke deaths, General Motors’ new Rear Seat Reminder technology — which made its debut in the GMC Acadia this year — will become standard on more than 20 models that account for about two-thirds of its U.S. sales.
The feature reminds the driver to check the back seat after a rear door is opened and closed while the engine is on or up to 10 minutes before the vehicle is turned on. Under those scenarios, the vehicle will produce five chimes and display a reminder on the instrument panel that reads “Rear Seat Reminder/Look in Rear Seat” once the engine is turned off.
Including the Acadia, GM said the feature will now come standard on 21 models including the 2017 Buick Lacrosse, 2017 Chevrolet Silverado and 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. Combined, the models account for about 68 percent of GM’s U.S. sales, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
“GM’s Rear Seat Reminder feature is an initial step to use technology to help remind drivers to check their rear seat before exiting the vehicle under certain conditions,” said Jeff Boyer, vice president of GM Global Safety, in a statement.
While the system can be used as a reminder to pick up items left in the back seat, it primarily serves as a function to make sure children are not accidentally left alone in the vehicle. GM said 39 children have died this year because of heatstroke after being alone in a car unattended, a 60% year-over-year rise.
“The new technology developed by General Motors will give busy parents and caregivers the important reminder to always check the back seat,” said Kate Carr, CEO of nonprofit organization Safe Kids Worldwide, in a statement. “The safest way to protect a child from heatstroke is to never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, and features like Rear Seat Reminder, coupled with continued public education, can help combat this preventable tragedy.”
A 2012 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 527 children died as a result of vehicle-related heatstroke between 1998 and 2012. Of those children, about 51% were unintentionally left behind by the caregiver, while 30% were playing in the vehicle while unattended and 17% were intentionally left behind.
GM said each of the following models will offer the Rear Seat Reminder system as a standard feature, in addition to other 2018 models “that will be announced at a later date.”
2017 Buick Lacrosse
2017 Cadillac CT6, Escalade and Escalade ESV
2017 Chevrolet Colorado, Cruze, Cruze Hatchback, Malibu, Silverado, Suburban and Tahoe
2017 GMC Acadia, Canyon, Sierra, Yukon and Yukon XL