Twenty-nine kids have already died this year after being left in hot cars, and there’s still over a month of summer left. On average, 37 children die each year of vehicular heatstroke, according to KidsAndCars.org, putting 2018 on pace to be one of the deadliest years ever. Nissan wants the senseless deaths to stop and announced yesterday that it was installing rear-seat alarms in its entire line of vehicles by 2022. Currently, only the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder contains an alert to notify the driver if a child has been left in the back seat.
Known as the Rear Door Alert System, Nissan’s patented technology was developed by a team of two mechanical engineer moms working in the company’s US Headquarters in Tennessee. Essentially, RDA keeps tabs on when a rear door opens before a trip and, if not reopened after the engine turns off and the driver exits, honks the horn. It also flashes a message on the instrument panel to “Check back seat for all articles” as soon as the car is turned off.
The system is similar to GMC’s built-in Rear Seat Reminder technology ⏤ standard in all 2018 Acadias, Terrains, Yukons, Canyons, and Sierras ⏤ and Hyundai’s Rear Occupant Alert System, which honks the horn, flashes lights, and sends the driver text messages if its sensors detect movement in the back seat. Right now, these are the only three automakers with integrated alarms but a bill currently proposed in Congress, the HOT CARS (Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats) Act, would mandate the devices be included in every new car built or sold in the United States.
In the absence of legislation, a number of tech startups and two car seat companies, Cybex and EvenFlo, have already integrated alarm systems into their products. Both car seat brands the same SensorSafe chest clip to sync with the parent’s smartphone and a wireless receiver that plugs into the car’s onboard diagnostic port. When the engine is cut, the device chimes to alert the driver — similar to if the front lights had been left on. Should the parent exit the vehicle, the alarm would send a notification to their phone app. From there, the final line of defense is an alert to a designated emergency contact accompanied by GPS coordinates of the vehicle’s last known position.
We are making improvements to keep your precious cargo safe. Learn more about our Rear Door Alert system, and our plans to make this feature standard on all 4-door models. https://t.co/wX5HDhYM2Z pic.twitter.com/NoQPhcC5Zk
— Nissan (@NissanUSA) July 31, 2018
While Nissan’s RDA is currently available in the 2018 Pathfinder, the company said it will roll it out on eight models in 2019 and its entire line of four-door cars, SUVs, and pickups by 2022.