Safety is a huge consideration for all automakers. The people who design and build the vehicles we drive on a daily basis, shuttling our kids to and from school, playdates, after-school activities, on vacations and day trips and everyday errands, are first and foremost, conscious of their responsibility to do the right thing.
So the announcement that GMC is the first in the industry to offer Rear Seat Reminder Alert in the all-new 2017 GMC Acadia is welcome news.
The feature arrives at the start of summer, a time when millions of American families will be out on the roads, darting in and out of vehicles and doing their best to enjoy quality time. With so much going on, parents and caregivers sometimes need a little help to remember those little tykes in the back seat.
That’s where the Rear Seat Reminder comes in so handy. Besides helping to protect the children, the reminder also alerts the driver to check the rear seat for belongings left there. This could be a laptop, briefcase or other valuables, food or a pet.
How It Works
The basics of the Rear Seat Reminder are that it monitors the rear doors in the GMC Acadia. Whenever the rear doors are opened or closed (either door) within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or while the Acadia is running, the feature activates
The next time the vehicle is turned off after the activation, the system, by design, sounds five audible chimes at the same time it displays the message, “Rear Seat Reminder / Look in Rear Seat” in the vehicle’s driver information center.
While the audible and visual reminder should alert the driver to check in the backseat, the system cannot detect items left in the back seats. That’s why it’s so important for the driver to do a physical check of the rear seat area whenever exiting the vehicle.
Busy Mom Part of the Engineering Team
Back to the people working at car companies wanting to do the right thing, one of those people is Tricia Morrow. A global safety engineer at GMC, Morrow worked on the 2017 Acadia. As she told Parents magazine, she’s also a mom of two daughters who cares deeply about her children – and the children of other parents as well.
“Our team felt that we needed to do something quickly with the hope of preventing some of these [hot car deaths of children] tragedies,’ said Morrow in the piece.
While noting that the simple solution won’t detect a child in the vehicle, Morrow added, “even if it only saves one child’s life, it will be totally worth it.”
Every year in America, about half of the children under the age of 14 who perish from heatstroke in a car do so after being forgotten in the vehicle.
Be Cautious This Summer – And Always
Even with the windows cracked, the in-vehicle temperature can reach 125 degrees in just minutes, according to the KidsandCars website.
Safety tips for parents and caregivers to follow include:
- Look behind the front seat before you lock the vehicle.
- Give yourself a reminder to check the back seat. The best way to do this may be to place your purse or briefcase or cellphone – something you’ll definitely need and will look for – in the back seat. This should prompt you to look there before you leave the vehicle.
- Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even if it’s parked in your driveway.
- Place car keys and remotes out of reach of kids’ reach.
- Never leave a child or children alone in the vehicle – not even for a minute. Tragedy can happen quickly.
- Use drive-through services whenever possible, to avoid the temptation to leave the kids in the car while you get coffee, pick up the cleaning or some other quick errand.
- Put a strict policy in place regarding daycare drop-off. The point is that you should have an agreement with the provider to call them if your child will not be attending daycare, and they are to call you if the child has not arrived during the scheduled time.
- Be especially cautious during busy times of the year, holidays, and during times of crisis.
- If you see a child alone in a locked car, don’t just pass by. If the child appears hot or ill, try to get them out of the vehicle as quickly as you can and call 911 for immediate assistance.
Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, offers this advice to parents: “Technology alone cannot solve the issue of heatstroke when it comes to young children, but this new Acadia reminder can help. We must always remember that the safest way to protect a child from heatstroke is to never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.”
The General Motors Foundation and Safe Kids Worldwide created an awareness campaign called “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car” to help prevent tragic and unnecessary deaths as a result of heatstroke. Among children under the age of 14, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths.
A final reminder is that the danger of leaving kids alone in a vehicle doesn’t end with the last days of summer. Temperatures inside vehicles can climb even on a relatively cool day outside. And the dangers of children left alone in a car during frigid temperatures also warrant extra parental vigilance.
Our view is that more automakers should take heed of the Rear Seat Reminder safety feature in the 2017 GMC Acadia and hopefully follow suit with a similar feature in their own vehicles.