“U.S. won’t mandate tech fix to prevent hot car deaths”

A Detroit News article from a year ago indicated that NHTSA — despite a mandate from Congress in 2012 to study the problem — had no plans to mandate technology to prevent hot car deaths.

A group called Kids and Cars noted that Congress granted NHTSA authority to study technological fixes in 2012 and called on NHTSA to take faster action. Senate Democrats this month introduced legislation that would direct NHTSA to conduct new research into the issue and “either commence a rule making within a year of completing the two-year research initiative or to submit a report to Congress on its reasons for not commencing such a rule making.”

NHTSA has been studying since 2011 the issue of whether after-market devices would be effective in preventing children from being left behind. No major automaker has added any in-vehicle technology to prevent children from being left behind. In a new report released Friday, NHTSA said its review of seven aftermarket products — including three unveiled last year — “offer product developers a set of testing applications that may be used to benchmark their designs and to improve system performance.”

Some systems send an alert to a driver’s mobile phone if they forgot a child, while others send an alert to the key fob or horn. They could also be added to more new car seats, Rosekind said.

General Motors vice president for safety Jeff Boyer said the automaker is also studying the technology, but he said in the meantime it is important to keep up the work on outreach and education to parents. A Chevrolet Volt was part of the demonstration with Safe Kids Worldwide showing firefighters responding to a report of a child left behind in a car.

Some industry experts think automakers are concerned about liability issues and the need for any system to be nearly perfect which is one reason none have added the devices to vehicles.

Really? Surely with all of the technological gizmos appearing in new cars and the ability for smartphones to be connected to vehicles, we can conquer this problem.

Surely we can take on this Goliath as a nation. Sounds like this issue is a good candidate for a Roundtable to address this problem. We cannot let these tragedies continue just because, “It would be difficult to justify an expensive technological fix to address a small number of deaths on a cost-benefit analysis.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think that the answer lies in a combination of personal and social responsibility.  Come on, America, let’s tackle this tragedy together!

Tragic deaths

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