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General Motors said on Tuesday it will introduce a new safety system to remind drivers to check for children in the rear seats, and that it could eventually develop features to detect forgotten children.
The Detroit automaker showed off its 2017 Acadia SUV that includes what it says is an industry-first feature that will alert drivers who had opened the back door at the start of a trip to check the back seat once they get to their destination.
"Too many children are inadvertently left behind in vehicles, often with tragic results. It's hard to fathom but it does happen, leading to dozens of fatal heatstrokes in children under 14 every year," said GM product planning chief Mark Reuss.
The system "does not detect the presence of a child in the back seat but as a simple extra reminder to look in the rear seat on the way out of the vehicle regardless of what may be there," Reuss said.
He also said that the Acadia is one of the most popular GM vehicles for buyers with children.
While the new GM system won't be able to sense if a child has been left behind, Reuss said GM could eventually add that capability.
Reuss said GM "has some pretty sophisticated anti-theft motion deterrent systems" and it is possible the automaker could add technologies to detect a child left in a parked vehicle.