Safety advocates have just scored a win as automaker Nissan announced plans Tuesday to make rear door alerts standard in eight vehicle types by model year 2019.
The system will notify drivers if the rear door was opened before a trip but not reopened after the car is parked and the ignition is turned off, with an initial display in the instrument panel and a series of discrete honks. Nissan aims to have the rear door alerts in all four-door trucks, sedans and SUVs by model year 2022, the company said in a statement.
“We kept reading all these incidences of children accidentally left in cars and we were really worried,” said Marlene Mendoza, a mechanical engineer at Nissan who developed the technology with fellow engineer and mother, Elsa Foley.
They asked themselves, “Is there something we can do?” Mendoza said.
They started brainstorming and working on the concept in 2014 but the idea for the alert came while Mendoza was pregnant and accidentally left a pan of lasagna in her backseat overnight. She said the car smelled for days after but it made her wonder about what could happen if she left something — or someone — more important back there.
“It can help so many people at different levels,” she said.
While child safety advocates are pleased car companies are implementing technology, they say it cannot stop there.
“I think all alert systems can be helpful,” said Miles Harrison, of Purcellville, Virginia. “But alert systems alone will not work. It needs to be an alert system and a regular messaging system somehow. Because most people, myself included, can’t believe this can happen to them. It’s so unbelievable. You can’t walk in someone else’s shoes.”
“It is terribly hard,” he said. “I think part of it is this intense guilt that I still feel. The other part is I don’t want parents to have to go through what I put my family through. I don’t want them to have to wake up every morning like I do.”
The bill was attached to the federal Self Drive Act, which was introduced and passed in the House in 2017. Its companion in the Senate, the AV Start Act, passed through the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee but awaits confirmation by the full Senate. If the bill doesn’t make it through, Rollins said it will be reintroduced in the next congressional session.
Safety can be looked at from several angles, Rollins said, citing examples of technology installed in the vehicle or added to car seats.
Evenflo’s parent company also makes car seats that use an app for an additional prompt.
There are even more sophisticated systems that would sense a child’s presence through movement or carbon dioxide sensors, she added.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Amber Rollins as Amber Collins.
Also, a previous version of the story inaccurately described how the SensorSafe chest clip works.
News credit : Cnn