A U.S. automaker has come out with a new feature aimed at preventing children from dying in hot cars.
GMC is adding a "Rear Seat Reminder" as a standard feature to its 2017 Acadia SUV, the company announced on Monday. The system appears to be an industry first, said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and Janette Fennell, founder of KidsAndCars.org.
"It was designed in response to the tremendous amount of heatstroke deaths that we see every year," Tricia Morrow, a GM global safety strategy engineer who worked on the feature, told TODAY Parents. "We saw this as a problem for the industry."
The announcement comes a day after a 6-month-old baby in Des Moines, Iowa, became the 12th child to die in a hot car in 2016. On average, 37 children die this way every year, Fennell said.
The GMC feature monitors the car's rear doors and activates when it senses they are opened and closed within 10 minutes of the car starting, or while it's running. The next time the engine is turned off, the system chimes and displays a message for the driver that reads, "Rear Seat Reminder, Look in Rear Seat."
KidsAndCars.org has these tips to make sure you don't accidentally leave a child in a hot car:
When you get into your car, put your handbag, employee ID badge or cell phone on the floor board in front of the child. That will make you open the back door when you arrive at your destination.
Keep a stuffed animal in your child's car seat and place it in the passenger seat whenever you're driving around. It's a cue your child is in the back.
Ask your babysitter or child care provider to call you if your child hasn't arrived on time.