Hyundai is marking National Heatstroke Prevention Day by announcing plans to make its rear occupant alert system standard on most new vehicles in the United States by 2022.
Designed to prevent the tragic deaths of children accidentally left in vehicles during the summer, Hyundai’s rear occupant alert system comes in two different forms.
The most basic is a door-logic system which detects if a rear door was opened or closed before the vehicle was started. Should this occur, the system will remind the driver to check the rear seats when they exit the vehicle. The technology is relatively simple and it will be installed on most new vehicles by 2022. The first to have the system will be the 2020 Sonata which arrives at dealerships later this year.
The ultrasonic rear occupant alert system is more advanced as it combines the aforementioned door-logic technology with an ultrasonic sensor that detects motion from children and pets left in the second row. If motion is detected after a driver exits the vehicle and locks the doors, the vehicle will honk its horn and send an alert to the owner’s smartphone.
The ultrasonic rear occupant alert system debuted as an option on the 2019 Santa Fe and is standard equipment on the 2020 Santa Fe and Palisade.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says more than 20 children have already been killed this year because they were left unattended or became trapped inside a hot vehicle. Last year, 52 children died inside a hot vehicle and that topped the previous record of 49 deaths in 2010.
The NHTSA notes children are particularly susceptible to heat as their body temperatures can rise three to five times faster than that of an adult. The agency also said the temperature inside a vehicle can climb by 19° F in as little as ten minutes.
As a result, the government says parents should “never leave a child in a vehicle when running errands, not even for a minute.” They also encourage people who see a child alone in a vehicle to call 911 and get help immediately.
Of course, children aren’t the only ones susceptible to dying in a hot car. PETA is reminding pet owners not to leave dogs in their vehicle as they can rapidly succumb to heatstroke. It happens far too often and the group says at least 21 dogs have already died this summer.
As the group noted, even on a mild day with temperatures of 78° F (25.6° C) the temperature inside a vehicle can soar to 100° F (37.8° C) in a matter of minutes. On a 90° F (32.2° C) day, inside temperatures can hit 109° F (42.8° C) in less than 10 minutes.