General Motors is expanding the availability of sensor technology designed to keep kids and pets from dying in hot cars to more than 20 model vehicles.
The Rear Seat Reminder feature, which debuted earlier this year in the 2017 GMC Acadia crossover, will now be standard on 2017 and 2018 model-year Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and other GMC branded vehicles.
The feature is designed to alert drivers to check the backseat. However, it can’t actually detect whether there are items or people sitting in the back seat. Instead, the alert is connected to the use of the rear door. Which means drivers will be alerted whether there are groceries, other adults, or kids in back seat.
The reminder is activated anytime the 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). Once the vehicle is turned off after a door activation, the feature will make five audible chimes and display a message in the driver information center that reads, “Rear Seat Reminder” and “Look in Rear Seat.”
GM says 39 children died from heatstroke this year as result of being left in vehicles or gaining access to an unattended vehicle, a 60 percent increase over last year’s figure.
The feature, while not exactly futuristic, is an example of how automakers are pushing low- and high-tech features in vehicles as a way to compete with rivals.