The Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represent virtually every major automotive manufacturer in America, have agreed to implement rear seat occupant alert systems on their vehicles from the 2025 model year or earlier.
This move comes after a spate of hot car deaths in 2019, which prompted consumer advocate groups such as KidsAndCars.org to push automakers to take action and implement standard rear seat alert systems industry-wide.
“Under this commitment, automakers will help address this problem by introducing a wide range of approaches to help parents and caregivers remember to check the back seat as they leave a vehicle,” the AGA said in a statement. “At a minimum, these prompts will include a combination of auditory and visual alerts that will activate after a driver turns off the vehicle. With this pledge, the auto industry commits to having the rear seat reminder feature in essentially all cars and trucks by Model Year 2025 or sooner.”
General Motors was actually the first company to implement rear seat occupant alert technology when it rolled out the Rear Seat Reminder system as optional equipment on the 2017 GMC Acadia. GM’s system tracks if the rear doors were opened 10 minutes before the ignition was turned on or if the door was opened at any point while it was already on, sending the driver an alert to check the rear seat when they switch the ignition off. The system is now available in certain Cadillac, Chevrolet and Buick models as well, in addition to the Acadia.
GM’s system is less advanced than some others, such as Hyundai and Kia’s. The South Korean company’s system uses ultrasonic sensors to detect movement in the back seats, sending a reminder to the driver when they shut off the vehicle. If the driver leaves the shut off vehicle and movement in the rear seats is still detected, the vehicle will honk its horn, flash its lights and send an alert to the driver’s smartphone via the automaker’s connectivity system.
With this pledge, the two manufacturer alliances have stepped out ahead of U.S. Congress, which is working on a bill that would seek to mandate rear seat alert systems in all vehicles with a back seat.