TAMPA, Fla. – Monday’s death of an 18-month-old Tampa toddler who was left inside the family car is a grim reminder of a tragedy that has claimed dozens of lives each year.
- 2019 on pace for most unattended child deaths inside vehicles
- Car manufacturers to equip all cars with alert systems by 2025
- Some systems involve audio and visual alerts, plus email/text messages
On average, 38 children die from heatstroke while left inside a hot vehicle.
Noheatstroke.org, which has been tracking these incidents since 1998, estimates 2019 is on pace to have the most deaths involving children left behind in hot cars.
Last year had the most deaths with 53, according to the site created by Jan Null, a meteorology professor at San Jose State University.
In most of these cases, 53 percent from the statistics the website has researched, the deaths result from a family member forgetting about the child.
The other deaths are due to a child entering a vehicle on his or her own account or when a caregiver knowingly leaves children inside a car.
So how can technology prevent these incidents? Where are carmakers in providing a preventative car feature?
Right now, car manufacturers are working on what’s called rear seat reminder systems.
Some brands and models are already alerting on a driver’s dashboard display.
Consumer Reports published what some of these systems offer.
For example, Kia is providing motion detection and rear-door logic.
Along with the display alert, the feature will issue a two-tone chime after the engine is turned off, almost like the seat belt reminder in most cars.
It will also have ultrasonic sensors which detects motion up to 24 hours in the rear cabin.
If it’s set off, the vehicle will honk for 25 seconds and send an email or text.
There are limitations. This system by Kia only activates when the car is locked.
The good news is in September 2019, car manufacturers pledged to offer some kind of rear seat reminder system in all vehicles by 2025.
Some manufacturers are unveiling even before in 2022.
The goal is to alert in multiple ways — something you can hear or see from the parked car.
The problem is it still doesn’t account for the tens of millions of cars already on the roads.