A parked car gets real hot, real fast. Interior air temperatures rise nearly 20 degrees in the first 10 minutes alone, according to findings by the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University.
That heat can be deadly and even great parents make simple mistakes. Statistics published by child safety advocates KidsAndCars.org report 53 children between the ages of two months and 13 years died as a result of vehicular heatstroke in the U.S. in 2019. With the rear seat reminder feature you’ve started to see on an increasing number of cars, automakers are taking a step to prevent such deaths.
What Is Rear Seat Reminder? How Does It Work?
Unlike the torque rating of a supercar or the kW-hr capacity of an EV, rear seat reminder systems are pretty self-explanatory. Although the same tech is labeled differently depending on the manufacturer, each system provides a message to the driver to check the rear seat if it determines that passengers may be present.
The primary method through which vehicles determine rear occupancy has to do with their doors. If a rear door is opened and closed before or after the car’s engine has been started, the vehicle’s computer knows to issue a rear seat reminder when the engine is turned off.
A system shared by Hyundai and Kia includes motion detection as a secondary means to determine whether passengers are in the rear seats. If, after issuing a reminder when the engine is powered off, the rear door is not opened and the car is locked, ultrasonic motion sensors begin scanning for movement.
When motion is detected, the vehicle will activate its horn for 25 seconds and will repeat that process up to eight times if motion continues. The vehicle will also send text and email messages to the owner(s) if they subscribe to Kia’s Uvo or Hyundai’s Blue Link telematic services.
Which Cars Have Rear Seat Reminders?
General Motors—composed of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC—began fitting vehicles with its Rear Seat Reminder system for the 2017 model year. Starting with the 2018 model year, most vehicles across GM’s brands have included door-logic rear seat alert systems as standard.
Hyundai and Kia, the only automakers to utilize both motion detection and door logic, haven’t made the tech on as many vehicles, yet. Their system is branded Rear Occupant Alert.
In the Hyundai lineup, the Palisade, Santa Fe, and Sonata all feature a door logic system. Only the Santa Fe and Palisade offer motion detection, and it’s an optional extra. As for Kia, the new Telluride features motion detection and door logic as standard on all trims. The only other Kia to include the tech is the Seltos, which features standard door logic but no motion detection. It should be noted that Hyundai has pledged that Rear Occupant Alert will be standard on all its vehicles by 2022.
Nissan includes its Rear Door Alert as standard on nearly every model in its range, with the exception of the soon-to-be-replaced GT-R, two-seat 370Z, and Frontier pickup. It’s also featured on the Infiniti QX60 and QX80.
Toyota has only just started adding the feature to its cars and uses the same Rear Seat Reminder moniker as General Motors. It’s standard on the new Highlander. Subaru also uses the name Rear Seat Reminder, which it offers on 2020 versions of its Ascent, Forester, Crosstrek, and Impreza.
If you’re worried that the new car you have your eyes on doesn’t feature a rear seat reminder system, you won’t be worrying too long. Two groups, the Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile manufacturers, encapsulate nearly every automaker that sells cars in the States. Both groups and the automakers therein have agreed that alert systems like these will be standard on every model by 2025.
Different Names For Rear Seat Reminder Systems
- Rear Seat Reminder (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Subaru, Toyota)
- Rear Occupant Alert (Hyundai, Kia)
- Rear Door Alert (Nissan, Infiniti)
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