New legislation seeks mandatory alert system for kids left in cars

Brittany A. Roston - May 23, 2019, 4:53 pm CDT
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New legislation seeks mandatory alert system for kids left in cars

Newly proposed legislation seeks the mandatory inclusion of forgotten child alerts in all new vehicles. The technology, which is currently available as third-party accessories, alerts drivers to the presence of a child in the back seat of a vehicle, helping reduce the number of tragic hot car deaths. The full legislation will be published for the public to read in coming days.

Though they don’t all work in exactly the same manner, these child alert systems are generally designed to remind drivers to check the back seat of their vehicle before they leave the car. The system helps remind parents who may otherwise become distracted — these situations have tragically resulted in the death of babies and young sleeping kids who were left in a hot car.

The new legislation was announced by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Maria Cantwell, and Roger Wicker, as well as US Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Tim Ryan, and Pete King. The finalize text for the House legislation is being polished and will be made available for the public to read in ‘coming weeks,’ according to the politicians.

Assuming the bill was passed, automakers would be required to include these alert systems as a default feature in all of their new consumer vehicles (released after the bill went into effect). There’s no word on specific requirements for these systems, though they’re not likely to be complex; we’ll get more details when the text is published in the near future.

Talking about the new proposal is Congressman Tim Ryan, who said:

No child should endure the tragedy of dying while trapped in a hot vehicle. The unfortunate reality is that even good, loving and attentive parents can get distracted. Studies have shown that this can happen to anyone, anywhere. That is why I am proud to work with Representatives Schakowsky and King on this important legislation.

Our cars can already alert drivers when they leave their keys in the car, their lights on, or their trunk open – none of which are life threatening. It is not unusual for the government to mandate safety features to protect lives. Cars are mandated to have seat belts, interior trunk-releases, and rear backup cameras. Our legislation would move us one step closer to getting this inexpensive technology in every car on the road to help save the lives of children nationwide.


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