By Theodore Opara
HYUNDAI has announced plans to introduce a new Rear Occupant Alert system to future models, using motion sensors and connected technology to prevent children being forgotten in hot cars.
The system, which Hyundai will begin introducing on new cars for the 2019 model year, monitors the rear seats using an ultrasonic sensor to detect the movements of children.
If it detects movement after the driver leaves the car, it will sound the horn, flash the lights, and can send a Blue Link alert to the driver’s smartphone via Hyundai’s Blue Link connected car system.
A message on the instrument panel will also remind drivers to check the rear seats before getting out.
“It is so easy for a parent to forget, even just for a moment, a small child sleeping quietly in the back of the car, and the consequences can be tragic,” said Hyundai’s Head of Operations for Africa and the Middle East, Mike Song. “As Hyundai uses connected technology to make cars better and safer, Rear Occupant Alert is a very simple but effective idea that will certainly save children’s lives.”
Even when the outside temperature is in the low 20s, measurements show that the interior of a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly approach 50 degrees Celsius. Experts say it only takes a matter of minutes before the heat can overwhelm a child’s ability to regulate his or her internal temperature. Their core temperature can increase three to five times faster than that of an adult.
In addition to being forgotten in the car, tragedies have also occurred in cases where children accidentally lock themselves inside.
Rear Occupant Alert was previewed by Hyundai in the United States where, just in the first nine months of 2017, at least 38 children have died from heatstroke after being left in hot cars. More than 800 have died since 1994, and in 55 percent of these cases, the parent was unaware their child was even in the vehicle.
“The Rear Occupant Alert is just another example of how we do things better at Hyundai,” said Mike O’Brien, Vice President, Product, Corporate and Digital Planning, Hyundai Motor America. “This system is a first step in preventing tragedies. We understand only a brief lapse in judgement and inattention can have terrible consequences.”