By on May 24, 2019

U.S. lawmakers are considering legislation that would require automakers to install technology on all new vehicles that would alert drivers to check for children before exiting a vehicle. If passed, the bill would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to write new rules within two years mandating the introduction of “a distinct auditory and visual alert” to remind drivers to check the back seat. It also calls for a study to assess the feasibility of retrofitting older vehicles with the system.

Lawmakers claim that more than 800 U.S. children have died from heatstroke over the last two decades as a result of being left unattended inside an automobile.

While that averages out to less than the number of U.S. citizens killed by lightning strikes every year, media attention makes these incidents look more prevalent than they actually are. A Florida daycare owner made national news earlier this week after being arrested for leaving an infant in a hot van. However, unlike most lightning strikes, automotive heatstroke is entirely preventable and could be curbed by new safety technologies.

According to Reuters, the proposal is sponsored by a number of lawmakers including Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

Schakowsky said 48 children perished as a result of heat stroke in cars in 2018. “In the vast majority of those cases, the adult did not realize the child was inside the car. It’s not enough to educate parents about the risks,” she said, adding that most new cars alert drivers when they’ve left their keys in the vehicle and suggesting the same should be true “if you leave a child in the car.”

While education should always be the public’s first line of defense, some cars already do possess systems that can help. General Motors introduced rear-seat reminders in 2016. While the system doesn’t explicitly check for children, it does monitor the vehicle’s rear doors and alerts the driver to check the back seat. The feature activates whenever a rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or if they are opened and closed while the vehicle is already running. When the vehicle is turned off after a door activation, the system sounds five audible chimes and a display message reminder drivers to “Look in Rear Seat.”

Nissan utilizes a similar system and Hyundai later introduced one that uses sensors to detect movement in the rear seat, honking the horn or even pushing notifications to a person’s phone via its Blue Link connected-car system as a warning.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has said it will “carefully review any legislative proposals keeping in mind that fewer than 13 [percent] of new car buyers have a child six years old or younger.” It also said that it takes roughly two decades for new automotive technologies to reach most passenger vehicles, adding, “Greater public awareness saves live today.”

[Image: General Motors]

 

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84 Comments on “Congress Considers Mandating Rear Seat Child Alerts...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    When will my bathroom mirror be required to remind me to zip up? Brush my teeth? Floss?

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Except now the car beeps if you have the car in Accessory mode, or something else other than “OFF,” with keyless ignition.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Drivers are going to get highly annoyed, even if the system is meant to protect children.

    Why? My ’19 Colorado always alerts me to the back seat even when nothing is there IF for whatever reason I opened the back door to access the space. A back seat alert system would probably be better if it could actively determine if there is something there to alert about, such as that child, pet or package.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      ^ This.

      The passive systems will be ignored, or someone will find a way to defeat it.

      Then someone will ignore the warnings with a child in the back, then sue after the child dies of heatstroke.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      You can defeat the system already – it is in the system settings. At least I can in my ’17 LaCrosse. We have an empty nest, the only thing that would get left in the back seat is stuff. When we start hauling the grandkidlet around I’ll turn it back on.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Maybe so. But I use it for a different purpose; it lets me know I’ve been back there to open my sliding rear window panel. Because it’s not electric, I can’t just push a button to close it and it’s too far back to reach from the driver’s seat. (extended cab, not crew cab. Power window not available when I ordered the truck.)

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Government just wants to radiate you and your child with some form of radiation, so you die faster and open spot for the illegal

    • 0 avatar
      tsoden

      Sadly, these type of systems are needed in this day and age. Especially considering that we live in a world where people are more focused on their phones and social media instead of what goes on in the real world…i.e. paying attention to their kids.

      • 0 avatar
        ravenuer

        tsoden, you’re probably right, but for the life of me, I can’t envision anyone forgetting that you have a baby or small child in the back.

        • 0 avatar
          tsoden

          I feel the same way (being a father and all), and yet we have these aweful statistics. I often wonder these days is people are mentally preppared when having kids. There is, of course, no owners manual to being a parent, but, there is a LOT OF common sense.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    The people who would be best “served” by such a device, the chronically distracted, are those least likely to heed the warning. Alternatively, they’re likely the ones who’d find a workaround.

    I can see this turning into a boy who cried wolf situation and will eventually be ignored like all other klaxons: car alarms anyone? I could see issues such as those Vulpine references above being mitigated by a seatbelt sensor; it only goes off if a belt has been used during a specific trip (unbuckling while underway wouldn’t reset it).

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The people most likely to “need” but would “ignore” the warning are best served by a manslaughter charge in the event of a death of their own child, or license suspension for a year and mandatory retraining before the license is restored. Nothing gets results like harsh penalties.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I’m not disagreeing with you.

        This proposal does nothing about the root cause to the problem.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        I’m pretty sure that for nearly all parents this happens to, do you seriously think a license suspension and taking driver’s ed is going to really make much of a dent compared with the fact that they just killed their own kid?

        These usually aren’t bad people, they are generally parents that suffered a momentary lapse in memory. (In most cases, they occur when there’s a disruption to routine, like “Usually Dad takes the kid to daycare on Monday, but it was Mom’s turn instead.”) You can’t pass laws to somehow force people to not make mistakes. (Well, you can, but it doesn’t actually work; it just doles out criminal punishment to people for being human.)

        Gene Weingarten at the WaPo wrote a whole long-form piece about the phenomenon, for which he got a well-deserved Pulitzer.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/fatal-distraction-forgetting-a-child-in-thebackseat-of-a-car-is-a-horrifying-mistake-is-it-a-crime/2014/06/16/8ae0fe3a-f580-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6768df5a6ef6

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    There are already signs that can be ignored at Walmart advising shoppers to check for their children and animals in the car.

  • avatar
    Raevoxx

    So long as I can turn it off, without a warning lamp SAYING that it’s off, and it STAYS off unless you turn it back on… I’m OK with it.

    But please don’t force this on my willingly child-less self.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “Lawmakers claim that more than 800 U.S. children have died from heatstroke over the last two decades as a result of being left unattended inside an automobile.”

    How about a public execution for any parent who kills their kid this way? That might stop the problem.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This should be easy to implement; just do it.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Just a few lines of code and a sensor right, or something wired to the switch that’s already on the rear doors to trigger the dome light when the door is opened anyway?

      Honestly I’ve never forgotten the kids (going on 5 years having to remember at least one) but I have often forgotten the stuff I put in the backseat. Might save me the trip of having to go back out to the car after I’ve parked.

  • avatar
    Garak

    Great, my car already tells me to “check safelock” (whatever that means) when I turn it off. Soon it’s gonna have a laundry list of checks and notices. Can’t wait to ignore all of them.

  • avatar
    civicjohn

    A sad commentary on the nanny state and parenting. I managed to raise 2 without an alarm and 1/3 of the time they were in a Sienna minivan that had so many seats I don’t think I ever counted them all.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Congress is ready to impose mandates on just about everything that moves. It should be reminded that 1. – its powers are limited, and 2. – it’s impossible to legislate against stupidity.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “2. – it’s impossible to legislate against stupidity.”

      … especially when said legislators are more stupid than their constituency.

      … and advertise it regularly.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Congress knows its powers are limited. That’s what happens when the Senate decides to be an extension of the Executive branch instead of doing it’s constitutionally mandated job…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Wow. A lot of hand wringing and whining over a system that clearly most have never experienced.

    In GM vehicles it is easily turned off in system settings (at least on 2017 models). The addition of this to any CANBUS vehicle is literally software and a rather simple IF > THEN > code. The crappiest econobox you can buy new has sensors in place to know if any passenger door is opened or closed. The addition of weight sensors as some have suggested would then add real cost, complexity and other issues, such as sensor failure from the increased abuse the sensors would suffer with packages, knees, and other pressure points placed on them.

    This group of curmudgeons whined about the horrors of electric emergency brakes in early deployment, now on a list of vehicles to numerous to list from a wide range of manufacturers.

    The B&B screamed about the horrors of mandated stability control as a nanny state. Errr mer Gerd the added cost of a backup camera, when basically even the cheapest econobox has a touchscreen infotainment system now and any vehicle not equipped is largely looked down upon now as ancient (like many I hate the tacked on iPad look, that’s a different issue).

    Some of you were probably complaining 20 years ago that DRLs are distracting and the added load will dramatically reduce the fuel economy of cars.

    Why don’t we beotch about some real problems, like POTUS saying f-u on $2 trillion in infrastructure investment while China is deploying 600 KPH maglev trains. I would prefer Congress work on real issues, not feel good headline-grabbing distractions.

    Look at this way, if someone has this reminder system and they still leave their child to roast to death in their car, the, “I didn’t know,” argument is completely out the window.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      “Look at this way, if someone has this reminder system and they still leave their child to roast to death in their car, the, “I didn’t know,” argument is completely out the window.”

      Assigning blame after the fact is a pretty hollow victory. Unfortunately, if a parent can forget that they have their child in the car, then they could also miss a warning chime. My guess is that there’s a chance that a warning chime might help in some cases.

      Unfortunately, I think there are also a number of cases that won’t be helped.
      If a bad parent can willfully ignore the dangers of leaving a child in the car, then that bad parent can easily see the warning chime and disregard it.

      Any decision to regulate it (or decision to do nothing) will have some flaw. It’s a question of which flaw bothers us less.

      It really is one of the most tragic situations you can imagine, and I hope that we can find a way to help other children avoid it.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      @APaGttH, yeah, China most certainly has their act together because they have a new maglev train. Every state needs one. We could save the planet. I know here in TN that we would use the heck out of it.

      And I missed the orange one vetoing the infrastructure bill. Does Ms. Maddow email you her talking points in advance?

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        …@APaGttH, yeah, China most certainly has their act together because they have a new maglev train. Every state needs one. We could save the planet. I know here in TN that we would use the heck out of it…

        Someone triggered? When it comes to public works projects and modernization – yes – China is handing our asses to us. Basic infrastructure investment is socialism don’t you know. If you think it is such a bad idea, we could certainly destroy all that TVA infrascturure. The same infrastructure that there was a push to privatized less than a decade ago and a certain political party suddenly decided that you know what, the government can do it better if it is in our own back yard.

        I don’t watch MSNBC or CNN, I find Maddow insufferable on a good day. I also don’t watch Fox News. I prefer to think than be told what to think.

        In Tennessee, no highspeed rail makes little sense. Having lived in Houston for 8 years and gone through air travel from IAH to DFW on numerous occasions, a high-speed rail line that connected Houston to Dallas, Dallas to Austin, Austin to San Antonio and San Antonio back to Houston would make huge sense. Air travel is painful on the short haul routes, driving barely saves you anytime, Houston is a hot mess of traffic, these are common commerce routes.

        Rail of this speed would also make huge sense in the northeast and Midatlantic corridors where Acela travel is ridiculously crappy compared to almost any other system on the planet, highways are hopelessly choked, and post 9/11 faux TSA precautions make air travel misery. The challenge in the most north and Mid-Atlantic is where to build given all the existing development.

        Rail from LA to Bakersfield was feckin’ stupid from the get go. Rail between LA and San Jose, San Francisco would make huge sense, but is a massive engineering challenge (as would a rail line to connect Nashville to Atlanta. It isn’t about saving the planet – it is about moving people and their stuff faster. The “smaller” you can make the nation, the more money is transferred between parties and the more jobs and wealth created. D’uh. Saving the planet? If it adds to that what’s the issue – exactly?

        As a Tennessee resident wasn’t your state promised massive basic infrastructure investment for road and bridge repair? In parts of West Virginia, they can’t dig for coal today if they wanted to because the roads and bridges are in such poor condition, there is no way to carry the loads out (look it up – and no that isn’t from CNN or MSNBC).

        If you’re really arguing there is nothing wrong with American infrastructure, you are a special kind of person. As for School House Rock, gee thanks, I know how it works – but dear leader said he won’t do anything to even consider a bill because he’s not a crook. You know, party over people. Bravo.

        • 0 avatar
          civicjohn

          Wow. Triggered? I don’t need 6 paragraphs. TVA? Who brought that up and how that relates is curious. If you love the infrastructure in China, move. Perhaps you would like it better than Houston. Last I checked, there is rail service between Nashville and Atlanta.

          I’ve taken many Acela trains. You’re right, they stink. Who operates them again? Lastly, where did I ever say that the country doesn’t need an investment in infrastructure? I didn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Last I checked, there is rail service between Nashville and Atlanta.”
            — but not through Chattanooga, which is an historic railroad town and whose residents have been clamoring for rail service in both directions.

            And what about Knoxville and Memphis? Why should they be left out?

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            TVA is a logical subject to mention. Government funded infrastructure and a make work project. That transformed an area.

            Those who benefit from government infrastructure, regardless of the decade that it was constructed, should not be the ones trying to prevent other areas from receiving the same benefits.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          If Texas wants to put a self-contained rail system in its state then they should do it. They have a state economy on par with Canada, there is no need for them to wait for Nebraskans and Vermonters to kick in Federal funding.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Regional rail needs to be added and supported. Inter-city rail between major cities with intermediate stops in towns on the route would make in-state travel much simpler and would probably reduce the number of traffic accidents along the highway corridors. Today’s adult has too much on their mind (or are actively distracted) to pay attention to where they’re driving any more. We older drivers tend to be less distracted because we didn’t start with all these gadgets.

          Then too, I’ve always believed it was a mistake to let passenger rail die out. Not everybody likes to drive long distances and as you say, air travel has become a complete hassle with airports and airplanes both becoming more crowded and uncomfortable. Flying used to be fun but now you’re packed tighter than sardines! Before much longer, we’re likely to see seating put out on the body of the plane just so it can carry a few more people, the way we see people riding on the outside of trains in some countries.

          State-, regional- and even cross-country rail services need to be reinstated and allow ground travel to every major city and town for those who don’t want to fly or drive. It’s more relaxing, less stressful and honestly not really any slower than driving–without the exhaustion at the destination that you get from flying or driving.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “with airports and airplanes both becoming more crowded and uncomfortable.”

            What makes you think a high-volume train will be more comfortable? Why won’t you be packed in just as tight? And, the first time someone smuggles a rectal pipe bomb onto one passengers will be dealing with pat-downs and metal detectors again.

          • 0 avatar
            civicjohn

            @Vulpine, I’m all for more rail service. Why all 50 states need to support it is still vexing to me. Amtrak is a joke.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @ajla: What makes you think they will be high-density trains?

            @civicjohn: If all 50 states are going to get into the infrastructure to build it into a national network, then all 50 states should help support it. To the best of my knowledge, none of them are asking the US government to pay for the whole thing–only a share of it. I would also note that because of what the Class I railroads have done, the new passenger lines need to be on separate tracks from freight and preferably on completely separate rights of way to avoid the costs of operating on the Class I roads. (They’re expensive.)

            Oh, and I disagree with you about Amtrak; but maybe that’s because the trains I’ve ridden are in a different area than yours. I travel by train to Florida at least once a year (typically taking my car or truck with me) and regional travel by train is usually quick and smooth. I would also note that North Carolina already has a regional passenger service that connects with Amtrak. Amtrak’s troubles come mostly from the fact that except for the NEC, they have to run on Class I lines and are restricted by the speed of revenue freight service which gives more priority to their heavy trains than they do to a train that wants to travel 30mph faster. Those Class 1 providers also charge a set fee for every piece of rolling stock that touches their rail in any given day–even if it’s only to travel a few feet before switching away again. And woe to the train bridging that gap at midnight–they now pay two day’s usage on a single transit.

            Oh, and that fee isn’t a tiny one. It’s not like they pay $1 per car per day… it’s several times that and even more for the locomotive, even when the driver works for the host rail company. Expensive? Yes. The only way out of that cost is to lay your own track.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “What makes you think they will be high-density trains?”

            So you’re stumping for a massive new investment in low-density rail travel?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “So you’re stumping for a massive federal investment in low-density rail travel?”

            — What makes you think they will be low-density trains? Have you no concept of something in-between?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            So “medium-density” rail travel?
            I just don’t have much faith in a long-term “Goldilocks level” of mass transportation in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Trains used to be the main form of long-distance travel in the US until airplanes took over.
            Trains used to be the main form of medium-distance travel in the US til cars took over.
            Cars are now making short and medium distance travel more difficult and SLOWER than trains ever were.
            Trains could take half of the automotive traffic and accelerate travel for both groups.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Trains could take half of the automotive traffic…”

            Ok. But would that scenario actually translate into “medium-density” trains? Cars and planes must have taken over from trains for some reason. Is that reason gone in 2019?

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @ajla, No because train coaches don’t have to meet the same weight, efficiency and aerodynamic standards as an airplane.

            And stops will be more frequent.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Ok. But would that scenario actually translate into “medium-density” trains? Cars and planes must have taken over from trains for some reason. Is that reason gone in 2019?”

            Yes–for cars out to about 100 miles.
            Yes–for cars AND planes out to about 1000 miles, though for different reasons.
            No–for planes over 300 miles.

            The plane’s greatest advantage is its speed over longer distances. Modern security requirements now typically have you at the airport no less than two hours before your scheduled flight and relatively short-hop flights tend to be over-booked. This means you might get off on time or you might be forced to disembark and take a different flight on who knows what schedule. On the other hand, 1000 miles to 3000 miles or more have planes that tend to be larger (outside of discount airlines) and usually slightly more open because of the time you’re expected to sit relatively motionless. Still not comfortable unless you’re seated in something other than coach. What a plane can do in 6 hours airborne, no other current vehicle can do in less than three days. But don’t forget that you spend two or three hours prior to the flight just trying to get to the gate and then waiting for the plane to arrive. So give that flight no less than 9 hours from your starting point to your destination.

            Short hops to 300 miles go quicker but you still have about 3 hours added to the flying time. A 300-mile flight might only take one hour in the air but still total to four or five hours when including ground time. A train may be slower but at an average pace over 60mph (max speed 79mph) you cover the 300 miles in five hours and skip almost all of the waiting time at either end and have the ability to sit in more comfortable seats–even in coach–and move around to visit club car, commissary car, whatever, allowing you to be far more relaxed when you arrive maybe only one hour later than if you’d flown. Even out to 500 miles the difference in time may not be all that significant unless your trip is time sensitive.

            Sure, the car can drive the trip in somewhat similar times… if the freeway goes straight to your destination (not all that often) then you’re good but having to drive through any city interchange in route could slow you down 30 minutes or more. Trains may stop in different cities, but they almost never remain stationary for more than about 15 minutes–with exceptions I will mention later.

            My favorite trip tends to run about 900 -1000 miles… namely the Auto-Train from Lorton, Virginia to Sanford, Florida (outside of Orlando.) Interestingly, travel time by train is almost exactly the same as travel time by car–if you drove non-stop except for fuel. In other words, about 18 hours, or minus. The difference is the fact that instead of driving, you’re riding, and you have pretty much the freedom of the train while you ride AND the opportunity to sleep, meaning you arrive fresh for the day instead of exhausted and needing to crash out for several hours before enjoying your arrival. Having the ability to take your car along means that A) the ride is non-stop (barring accidents) and B) your car is with you for your travels in Florida. Travel cost is about the same as a plane but you have benefits the plane cannot offer.

            Other Amtrak trains take the same route to a slightly different destination but you can’t take your car on those. (They’re also less expensive.)

            Something on my bucket list, however, is to ride coast to coast by train and I don’t have a whole lot of years remaining to do so. 20 years… maybe 30… and I won’t be able to enjoy it any more. And I doubt we’ll see a non-Amtrak route open up in that short a time unless the Class 1s themselves realize there is a market for it.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            I have my own formula for flying or driving to destinations. If I can drive there in six hours or less, I drive. Like Vulpine says, add two to three hours of downtime in any airport these days to your travel time.

            Recently I had to travel to Neenah, WI from Grand Rapids, MI. Had I decided to fly, I would have spent two hours before my flight and about an hour after with airport stuff. Plus, I still would have had to rent a car to my final destination. I estimated this would have taken me at least six hours.

            We have decent rail service between Grand Rapids and Chicago, but it only runs once a day. I have taken the train to Chicago for events, like the big Print show every fall. It’s very convenient and the ability to move around on the train helps considerably with the claustrophobia that eventually creeps up on me. It’s about the same amount of travel time, but then you don’t have to deal with traffic on I-80/90 & I-94 or the tolls on the Chicago Skyway and finding parking once you get to the convention center, etc., etc…

            For medium distance runs, I would love to travel by train more often. But, my job no longer has me on overnight trips any longer, so any demand I would generate would be nil. I’d love to go out West on the train, but in reality, air travel is cheaper and quicker even with the Homeland Security checkpoints.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I make 40+ roundtrips by air every year, all domestic US with rare vacation exceptions. I very rarely get to the airport more than 45 minutes before boarding. Exceptions being very large airports at very busy times of the year. Then an hour or so before boarding, a bit for returning my rental.

            Everyone loves to b!tch about the TSA, but it really isn’t much different than it has been since the ’70s hijackings. And they have gotten smarter too – at peak times, my home airport just runs everyone past a bomb dog and skips the full-body scanners and out and off dance.

            But I agree that more train service in areas where the density supports it would be great. The problem is the cost of it. Dedicated rail systems are horrifyingly expensive. Sharing with freight traffic sucks. China can do it because they are a command economy – if the government says the new high-speed train is going through your living room, well, it sucks to be you.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Our problem here in the US is that too few people recognize the advantages of rail travel and ignore the disadvantages of car and air travel. They’re so used to car and air that they have little, if any, personal experience with rail outside of commuter rail, if that much.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “And I missed the orange one vetoing the infrastructure bill. Does Ms. Maddow email you her talking points in advance?”

        — He didn’t. A single individual chose to object to the bill because it didn’t include any money for Orange One’s wall, despite the fact that everyone else in BOTH parties gave it the go ahead to send it to the President.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      “Why don’t we beotch about some real problems, like POTUS saying f-u on $2 trillion in infrastructure investment while China is deploying 600 KPH maglev trains.”

      Are you the remaining CNN viewer?

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        “If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.” – Mark Twain. A quote that I first read today but hope to remember for the rest of my life.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        Someone needs to watch a little School House Rock:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-eYBZFEzf8

        “I’m Just A Bill”, perhaps APaGttH might pick up on this whole “spending” thing.

  • avatar
    SlowMyke

    At this point, i think we just need to start having profiles created for vehicles. Set yourself up with your age/parental status/pet ownership/any other info likely to affect how you use the car and have the car prompt settings you might want based on it. Do it once and leave it as is until you feel the need to change settings. Then everyone can stop getting up in arms. I get it, it seems like yet another nanny and intrusion into your driving freedom. But I’d much rather have my car annoy me about a possible kid or dog sleeping in the back seat than trying to drive for me. Things like this help me do my job. And hearing that a daycare worker let a child die on a bus is heartbreaking. That’s something I’d accept a nanny to avoid happening again.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Seatbelts: no it’s safer if I am ejected.
    ABS: I can pump the brakes better than a system.
    Headrests: I can’t see.
    Traction/stability control: Too expensive.

    The Luddites and conspiracy theorists among us always have a reason to complain, about changes.

    Since there are no tests or qualifications for having children, then protecting said children is a societal responsibility.

    And ‘libertarians’ should agree with mandating such warning systems as implementing them is much less expensive than the medical care for a child who suffers heat stroke and the legal costs of prosecuting and incarcerating the person responsible for harming the child.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      Yes, Mr. Dailey, can we punch out that pesky lightning issue at the same time? Otherwise all of us Luddites will continue to stay indoors during a thunderstorm.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      This would not be to the benefit of everyone though. It is like mandating every vehicle in the US come with an extra set of mounted snow tires because a portion of the country lives in an icy hellscape.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      @Arthur exactly this. As noted above, this is implemented 100% using software. The cheapest econobox you can buy new today has sensors to know if any door is opened or closed. The code to add this to a vehicle is ridiculously simple.

      I wish CONgress would focus on real issues, but I find it amsuing that this upsets the KEEP WASHINGTON OUT OF MY LIFE set while they say in the next breath WHERE IS MY FARM SUBSIDY CHECK! TARIFFS ARE KILLING ME!!!

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Nobody argues that they can pump the brakes better than an ABS system, if that is the intention. It’s that in certain slippery situations you can stop in less distance by simply locking the brakes. Though some of the terrible early ABS systems could easily be outperformed even on clean pavement by a competent threshold braker.

      I also don’t recall traction and stability control cost being a major concern. Once you have ABS, the cost is trivial. I suppose there may have been arguments that ABS was too expensive. For most of us opposed to non-defeatable systems, cutting engine power and applying the brakes is simply the last thing we need while trying to maintain momentum in deep snow.

      Anyway, I think this system will be beneficial if it never gives false alerts. If it does, it will become routine to hear it and ignored when needed. I would not tolerate false alerts from such a system.

      As a social libertarian – not that it’s relevant – I find the idea of prosecuting someone for accidentally killing their own child to be absurd. They’ll suffer plenty for it. I’m not sure what the annual medical cost of back-seat child heat stroke cases is, but I’d be surprised if it’s significant.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        …Nobody argues that they can pump the brakes better than an ABS system, if that is the intention…

        Oh man, do some searching, people still argue that they can brake more effectively than ABS. As a matter of fact, scroll down and read Vulpine’s comment.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          It’s a matter of semantics but I would say that it wasn’t that he believes he’s physically capable of pumping the brakes better than the ABS can – when it does – but that he can better understand certain unusual situations than the ABS controller and react accordingly.

          There are icy situations that can render some ABS systems useless or worse. I don’t doubt that him manipulating the brake pedal himself was beneficial.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      • Seatbelts: no it’s safer if I am ejected.
      — Not something I ever said. I had seat belts in my very first car (a 1964 Chevy) and wore them from day one.

      • ABS: I can pump the brakes better than a system.
      — I still don’t trust it on icy roads. It works great if there’s any traction at all but I had an experience that demonstrated it wouldn’t pump if all four wheels were stopped… even if you were still traveling at 2-3 miles per hour. Had I not manually pumped, I could well have slid off an embankment because the road curved downhill and didn’t level out until you passed a traffic light. Total distance of travel even pumping manually at that speed was nearly 1000 feet. Pumping allowed me to steer the car but had no more effect on stopping than the ABS.

      • Headrests: I can’t see.
      — Headrests not in use can be rear-view blockers, depending on make and model. A retractible type would be far more useful for visibility when the seats are not occupied.

      • Traction/stability control: Too expensive.
      — Try too invasive. Losing power when one wheel spins in a 4×4 can cause a critical failure and prevent the vehicle from doing what it was designed to do–get through slippery and uneven ground by spreading the power to every wheel instead of just one. Newer systems are better but I still hear complaints about how a friend’s antique one-wheel-drive pickup can cross his muddy field better than his newer 4×4 SUV which has had to be pulled free multiple times.
      … by that same one-wheel-drive pickup.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I rode in a new 2019 XC60, and it had a button in the infotainment system that made the rear headrests drop out of sight. I suspect it was a set of solenoids. The seat rests would have to be re-deployed manually, but I thought it was a convenient feature.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          What do you know? Somebody finally listened! I wonder how long it will take for the rest to get the message?

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            My parents 1995 S-320 did this, drop the headrests at the push of a button. You had to manually pull them back up. Maybe on the 8 or 12 cylinder cars they were powered?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            In my 40+ years of driving, only one vehicle had “retractible” headrests and that was my JKU Wrangler. Even there, they would only unlock when you lowered the seat back to load floor and unless you tied it down (I used velcro strips on the carpet) they would automatically spring back up and lock in the upright position when the seat back was raised again. I would have happily broken or dismounted that spring if I could have accessed it, making the raising and lowering completely manual. No other vehicle I’ve ever owned would hide the headrest without you physically removing it. That includes both current vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        I never complained about seatbelts. I did and still do complain about airbags – which can hurt me and were mandated to accommodate those who refused to wear their belts. Just as “driver assistance” technology today is meant to accommodate those who can’t or won’t look up from their freaking phones. Oh yes, and to accommodate the automakers’ plans to sell us stuff via our infotainment systems.

        I could easily outperform early ABS systems but the newer ones are okay. Traction and stability control is something else as Vulpine has described above. Moreover, I’ve had it almost get me killed while making an emergency evasive maneuver when its slow-witted brain decided to cut my throttle when I needed it most.

        Look. If some people need warning alarms or “driver assistance” technology, fine. Just allow the sentient among us to turn it off and have it stay off. That’s all we’re asking.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      +1 agreed, Arthur, and APaGttH.

      This would be even cheaper to implement than backup cameras. I imagine this will also protect pets.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Well, you know, Arthur Dailey, some would like to install breathalyzers on all cars. You may not be an alcoholic *now*, but what if you get a taste for it later? Better install it in your car now and everyone’s ass will be covered.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @SPPP, so based on your comment you are in favour of allowing people to drive drunk, as it is their personal choice. Thankfully, not to many agree with you. Most of us agree that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.

        • 0 avatar
          SPPPP

          Arthur – So you *do* want the breathalyzers in all cars now?

          People get hurt walking drunk, too. Maybe we should mandate magnetic shoes that can imprison them safely until they sober up.

          I don’t want anyone hurting or endangering anyone else. I am just saying we can’t eliminate ALL vestiges of EVERY risk.

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      As the government won’t mandate any kind of active monitoring system, most car makers will go for the no-cost solution and add just a line of text and a couple of chimes every time you turn the car off. It’s worse than useless, people quickly start to ignore warning sounds and signs if they’re constantly bombarded with them.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    There is no reason *not* to implement the one that simply monitors rear doors. It’s some lines of code. Just do it. It’s too bad if it inconveniences people.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    No.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I just don’t understand this “problem”. I have two kids and even when they were babies, I was keenly aware of them being in the car. Now that they’re eight, I’m really aware of their presence in the car.

    I do not, for the life of me, understand how you could accidentally leave a child locked in a car for HOURS. I think its a convenient way for people to kill their kids, as awful as that sounds and make it look accidental.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      It’s a good thing. No one wants to leave their kid in a car on purpose, but I think a lot more folks are capable of making this horrible mistake than you would think—including folks who *know* it could never happen to them.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        Agreed. So long as it’s done properly (doesn’t alert unless sensors in the rear seat indicate weight, can be turned off), it’s not a bad idea. I can’t imagine a more horrific tragedy to a parent than inadvertantly causing the death of a child.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I have twin sons that are 8, had them since they were newborns,, they’re our only kids.I KNOW I could never leave them in the car by accident. There’s no ambiguity here. That’s why I don’t understand how it happens.

  • avatar
    brn

    I don’t have kids.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Never left your briefcase or lunch or whatever in the backseat when you walked off? Ever???

      • 0 avatar
        TotalNonStopCars

        Comparing food to children might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read here. Anyone who cant remember they have their own offspring in the backseat of their car that results in children being hurt/killed should be sterilized. Waaaay too many rules for the sake of stupid people being enacted these days.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          I wasn’t comparing packages to people.

          There is this thing called Google, go read some owner’s manuals of vehicles currently equipped with these systems. The systems are positioned as a reminder for humans, pets, or packages.

          Take your outrage to Detroit, Munich and Tokyo lawyers and their contracted technical writers.

          Tool.


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