With all of the technological advances that have been made in safety systems for vehicles, we still don’t have anything that could possibly assist in cases where drivers are alerted to children forgotten or left in car seats in cars – especially in hot conditions.
World wide, there are an average of 37 child deaths per year after having been left in hot cars for lengthy periods of time – of which 54% are the result of forgetful caregivers. In Victoria, Australia, 22-month old Noah Zunde died of heatstroke after having been left in a car all day by a mother suffering from “forgotten baby syndrome” – one of five children to have died in Australia in the past 10 years after being left in cars. The coroner’s report into this sad event has noted the lack of design standards in cars and called for the introduction of sensory technology to be used to alter parents when their children are left in the car.
Examples of these types of design features could include specialist mirrors which give parents a line of sight to the child once the car is locked, and video monitoring systems that beam a video of the child in the back seat to the driver – a reminder to the parents that they still have a child in the car. Some manufacturers in the USA are looking at including a logic sensor that can tell when a trip has begun, and can detect whether the rear door has been opened at the start of the trip, but not opened once the trip has ended. The car then provides a warning in the form of a beeping sound or warning light. Nissan is launching their version as “rear door alert” starting in the 2018 edition of the Pathfinder, and GM has “rear seat reminder” starting in the 2017 Holden Arcadia. Both of these systems use similar logic – and will sound the alert is anything is put on the rear seat at the start of the trip (not necessarily a child).
The busy working nature of many parent’s lives has made them more susceptible to accidentally forgetting their children. While the use of technology would not be a certain way of preventing such tragedies – anything that could help to reduce such incidents would save lives.