June 13, 2016 - Today's long-awaited announcement by General Motors makes this a significant step in achieving the goal of keeping children safe, by providing a reminder to drivers exiting their vehicle that a child may still be in the back seat.
"Though this may not be the complete answer, it certainly holds great promise, and is an important step forward," states Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org. "Adding a new safety system that reminds drivers to check for children in rear seats certainly has the potential to save lives."
KidsAndCars.org challenges all automakers to provide technology on their vehicles to help prevent children from being unknowingly left behind in the backseat of any vehicle. "The exciting GM announcement is an 'industry first' technology that should also be provided on all 2017 vehicles, not just one," Fennell said.
Already this year 12 children have succumbed to the heat in a car compared to 5 at this same time last year, a 240% increase. Since 1990, more than 750 children have died in these preventable tragedies.
"Parked cars heat up very quickly, which poses a major health threat to children and pets. Couple that with drivers overestimating the brain's ability to multitask when suffering from sleep deprivation, stress and the constant changes in their daily routine - all too often with tragic results," Fennell added. "New technology must be added as quickly as possible on vehicles to help prevent these needless deaths and injuries."
Amber Andreasen, director of KidsAndCars.org, affirmed that, "This can and does happen to the most loving, responsible and attentive parents; no one is immune. There is no greater tragedy for a parent or caregiver than to suffer the loss of a child due to heatstroke."
Through the "Look Before You Lock" educational campaign, the first of its kind, KidsAndCars.org has already distributed more than 750,000 safety information cards to birthing hospitals nationwide. This education campaign will continue, but at the same time technology is needed to prevent these tragedies.