The number of advanced safety systems in new vehicles has multiplied in recent years – some of them have been universally welcomed, others annoy by their intrusiveness. Still, it’s undeniable they have increased safety overall.
One of the most salutary innovations that have been introduced over the past two years or so is the alert system for the back rows of seats. We first saw such a system appear in the GMC Acadia when it got its latest overhaul, and it has been spreading to other brands and models since then.
Different companies give it different names, but no matter. Their basic purpose is the same, which is to compel drivers, when leaving their vehicle, to check the back seat if on departure one of the back doors had been opened.
Clearly, this kind of system can literally save lives, and no one would argue against its use. The question now is how quickly it can be integrated in all vehicle models.
Hyundai has now made a public commitment that such a system would be standard equipment in every one of its models sold in the U.S. by 2022. Nissan had previously made a similar promise.
For the 2020 model-year, only the Santa Fe and Palisade SUVs in Hyundai’s stable of models features a rear occupant alert system as standard equipment. Hyundai also has developed a more-sophisticated version; essentially that system functions via sensors that detect movement in the cabin, say of an animal or a child, once the driver has departed the vehicle. An alert can then be sent to the driver’s smartphone. The two 2020 SUVs offer this more-elaborate system as an option, as will the new Sonata once it launches.
Chances are very good this system will be become required equipment in new vehicles in a few years, and in fact the U.S. Congress has already considered legislation.
The recent example of the backup camera, now mandatory equipment, proves that it’s not an insurmountable challenge to make a new safety system ubiquitous, in a hurry.
When it comes to the rear occupant alert system, we say the sooner the better. Lives will be saved.