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New GM Tech Aims to Prevent Children, Pets From Dying in Hot Cars

June 15, 2016, 10:18 PM UTC
Rear Seat Reminder alert
Rear Seat Reminder alert
Courtesy of GMC/Mueller

General Motors has developed a new sensor technology for its GMC Acadia crossover SUV that alerts drivers to check the backseat. The intent: to keep kids and pets from dying in hot cars, the company says.

The automaker plans to offer the technology in future GM vehicles, but didn’t specify which models or when it might be introduced.

The rear seat reminder is activated anytime either rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or if they doors opened and closed while the vehicle is running (two signs that children or pets are being placed in the back seat).

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The next time the vehicle is turned off after a door activation, the Acadia is designed to sound five audible chimes and display a message in the driver information center that reads, “Rear Seat Reminder” and “Look in Rear Seat.”

The sensors can’t detect if something, or someone is in the backseat; it’s only monitoring the doors opening and closing. This means the chimes will go off even if adults are sitting in the back seat.

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This piece of tech might seem unnecessary, since leaving a child in a hot car in summer falls under the do-not-do list. But every year children and pets die from heatstroke after being left unattended in cars. This year alone, nine children have already died from being left in the car—a 350% spike from 2015, according to GM.

The reminder could also come in handy to drivers who leave valuables in their car, which can make it a target for theft. Nearly 23 percent of larceny in 2014 was from a motor vehicle, according to the FBI.