Aug. 13, 2019, Philadelphia, PA – More than 50 still-grieving parents and family members who have suffered the loss of babies and young children in preventable hot car heatstroke tragedies sent an Aug. 13 letter to Mary Barra, General Motors chairman and CEO, challenging the auto manufacturer to fulfill the promise made in 2001 to add technology to its vehicles by 2004 that would detect a child in the back seat.
The letter points out that GM’s promise remains unfulfilled despite reasonably priced existing technology now being available. “We urge you to follow through on GM’s 2001 commitment to install a child reminder system that detects the presence of a child in the rear seat rather than merely discloses that the rear door has been opened,” the letter stated, adding, “A system that detects the presence of a child will also address the problem of children who independently climb into unoccupied vehicles, representing nearly 30 percent of the identified hot car fatalities annually.”
In 2001 GM announced at a national press conference that pioneering technology designed to help prevent children from dying in hot vehicles would be available by 2004. A low-energy radar sensor was unveiled that can detect motion as subtle as the breathing of an infant sleeping in a rear-facing child safety seat.
“As parents and family members who have lost our children to these senseless tragedies, we can no longer stay silent as children continue to needlessly die in hot vehicles,” the letter said, noting that already this year at least 32 children have died in hot cars in the United States.
“We implore GM to offer an effective and comprehensive solution to prevent the tragedy of children dying in vehicles of heatstroke, like the requirement in H.R. 3593 (The Hot Cars Act of 2019), the bi-partisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.”