KidsandCars backs plan to install back seat alarms to prevent hot car deaths

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jun 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-09 19:23:37-04

With temperatures expected to exceed 90 degrees this weekend, an advocacy group is reminding parents to "look before you lock" to avoid tragedy. is supporting a congressional bill that would ask vehicle manufacturers to install backseat alarms in their vehicles to avoid hot car deaths. The group says there are an average of 37 hot car deaths each year and they are preventable.

"It's a lot more common than people think," said Amber Andreasen, director of "We know there are 37 children that die every year but there are thousands of near misses every year where the child survives. This is more common than you would think. What people don't understand is this happens to wonderful, loving, responsible parents who had no idea that their memory and brain could fail them with something so important."

Last year, General Motors implemented a backseat alarm system in a few of its models and expects to have most of its fleet equipped by 2018. At Mike Juneau's Brookfield Buick GMC, they have several 2017 models already equipped with the technology.

"You're about to put the child in the vehicle, you open the door to get them in and that triggers the automobile to set the rear seat alert," said Kevin Gilbert, a product specialist. "You get to your destination and get out, the first thing that's going to happen is that rear seat alert is going to go off, whether it's for a child, groceries, whatever you put back there."

The alert beeps five times when the car is turned off and has a message telling the driver to check the backseat. It is very similar to the alarm many cars have when the headlights are left on after the vehicle is turned off. Gilbert says it's just a gentle reminder.

"It's alerting you something is going on," Gilbert said. "It's a tap on the shoulder. Remember, you put something in the back seat. With parents, it's going to be a child more than anything else."

Gilbert believes this technology will come standard in cars at some point in the near future but Andreasen says there are some low-tech ways to remind yourself to check the backseat.

"You can put your briefcase [in the backseat], your handbag, wallet, cell phone," Andreasen said. "Some people even suggest taking off your left shoe and putting that in the backseat. The idea is, you're not going to get far in the parking lot without noticing your left shoe is missing."