While this seems like it should absolutely be a most unnecessary piece of tech in a car; it has unfortunately become a necessity with all the bad “parents” out there these days.
The number of children that have already died this year alone from being left in the back seat of a car is staggering.
What is more horrible is the knowledge that these people likely wouldn’t leave their cell phones in the back seat of a car; so how do you forget your child?
Nissan and other car manufacturers are actually doing something to combat this horrific situation.
Nissan said it is installing software aimed at notifying parents to check the rear seat before walking away from a parked vehicle, part of a growing effort by automakers to help tackle the problem of children dying of heat stroke in vehicles.
In a statement Wednesday, Nissan said it will be putting its new “Rear Door Alert” (RDA) technology inside the three-row 2018 Pathfinder SUV this September.
Earlier this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hosted a public awareness day about the dangers of heat stroke for children left in hot cars. The number of child heat stroke deaths increased 63 percent from 2015 to 2016, NHTSA said.
So far, this year, 29 U.S. children have died of heat stroke after being left inside of a car according to NoHeatStroke.org. Since 1998, an average number of 37 children die per year due to being left inside of a hot car. In 54 percent of those cases, the children were left behind by caregivers who forgot the children were in the car.
Nissan’s system detects if a rear door was opened or closed before the car was started, but then wasn’t re-opened again after the vehicle was put in park and turned off, the system notifies the operator with display notifications in the instrument panel of the car. If the driver fails to open the rear door, the car will then emit subtle but distinctive chirps of the car horn.
The idea came from Nissan engineers Elsa Foley and Marlene Mendoza who wanted to find a way to remind drivers to check the backseat before leaving the vehicle.
“The idea is if you open a rear door, whether to put a child or a package in the rear seat, the vehicle will help alert you when you get to your destination that you may want to check the rear seat,” Mendoza said. “We’ve built in enough time that you don’t have to rush, but if you don’t open the rear door again when you get out of the vehicle, we want to think for a moment about what you may have put in the back seat.”
General Motors was the first automaker to put this sort of technology in play when they added the “Rear Seat Reminder” technology to the 2017 GMC Acadia last year. The vehicle gives five audible chimes inside the car and displays a visual message on the instrument panel if a rear door was opened within 10 minutes of the car starting or at any time during the trip but then not reopened when the trip is completed.
Nissan took it a step further with its RDA technology by adding the honking cue to alert drivers that step out of the vehicle to check the backseat before walking away completely.
“The Rear Door Alert uses a similar honking cue that has been proven successful with Nissan’s Easy Fill Tire Alert,” Foley said. “By drawing your attention back to the vehicle once you’ve walked away, you are more likely to recheck the back seat than with a visual alert alone.”
The technology will be standard equipment on the Pathfinder and is planned to be available on other Nissan models in the coming years.
Foley, a mother of two children, and Mendoza, a mother of three, said being both moms and engineers helped make this technology happen.
“There’s a culture of innovation along with the Nissan Intelligent Mobility mission that really encourages employees around the world to seek out new ideas every day,” Mendoza said.
“We’re thankful that we were able to use our perspective as moms, and our backgrounds as engineers, to bring forward an idea that is now going into production — providing drivers with a reminder to check their back seats.”