For some of Singapore's smaller residents, the island's sunny tropical climate can be a double-edged sword when getting left in a hot car. While not as prevalent as it is in other countries like the United States, young children and pets getting left in cars does happen in Singapore, leading to potentially life threatening situations. Because of the possibility of severe heat stroke, both the SPCA and various family-oriented blogs have been warning about the dangers of leaving your children and pets in cars even for a short period of time. Now, even car engineers have noticed the dangers of this action and thus began creating new safety features designed to help drivers remember when they may have left someone in their back seat, with the latest being Nissan.
Newest Car Safety Tech: Nissan's Rear Door Alert
To help prevent incidents of potentially deadly forgetfulness, Nissan is adding new technology to its fleet to help remind parents and pet-owners when they forgot something in the back seat. Its Rear Door Alert (RDA) was inspired by one of Nissan's engineers who accidentally left a pan of lasagna overnight in the backseat and realised how much worse the ramifications could have been if the lasagna was instead a living being. The RDA works by detecting if you've opened a rear door before your journey and alerts you via the dashboard and car horn to remind you to check the backseat after your journey ends. This feature is fully customisable, giving you the option to turn it off altogether or turn it off during certain car trips.
This feature is going to be rolled out with eight 2019 Nissan vehicle types (all US-based), but will be a standard feature in all Nissan four door sedans by 2022. This means Singaporeans will have to wait until 2022 to potentially get Nissans available with the RDA feature.
Other Cars Have Been Releasing Similar Tech
Besides Nissan, car manufacturers such as GM and Hyundai have also developed back seat reminder features. GM's rear door features are similar to Nissan's in that they alert you via a series of chimes to check the back seat before exiting your vehicle, although it does not detect objects or person. It became standard on most 2018 GMC models, including Buicks, Chevrolets and Cadillacs. Hyundai is another manufacturer introducing this feature, albeit a little differently. Instead of a reminder, it has a motion sensor that monitors activity in the backseat. If it's detected movement and you were to leave your car without checking, your Hyundai would flash its lights, sound the horn and send a notification to your smartphone. This feature is expected to be included in 2019 Hyundai models. However, you should check with your car manufacturer before assuming your new Hyundai or Nissan car purchase will automatically include these features, as each manufacturer makes different features available for different markets.
What If You Can't Get Get These Features?
Singapore's car market is pricey, which makes it unlikely for most to be switching out cars every time new safety features are rolled out. Luckily, there are affordable ways to recreate similar safety measures with your current car. For instance, some experts recommend leaving a stuffed animal in the car seat when it's not being used and moving it up to the front seat when your child is in the back. Others recommend leaving important items such as your purse or wallet in the backseat so you will always have to open the back door (or at least look back to reach over) before leaving your car. You can also look for free apps like The BackSeat that will send you reminders about checking your car seat when they sense that your car stopped moving.
What Happens If You Leave a Pet or Child in Backseat?
While these car safety features are made to prevent forgetfulness, it does little to dissuade drivers who purposefully leave a pet or child in the car, thinking it is a harmless convenience. However, doing this can be far from harmless. Leaving a living being that can't regulate its body temperature can soon become deadly in as little as a few minutes. This is because the inside of a car heats up much more quickly than the outside temperature, even when you crack open a window. For instance, even when the temperature outside is 29 degrees Celsius, the inside of a car can reach a deadly 40 degrees. Heatstroke sets in when the body temperature increases to over 40 degrees Celsius and can lead to a quick and painful death that includes organ shutdown, dizziness and mental turmoil such as agitation and confusion.
Thus, to prevent the discomfort of your loved ones, it is always recommended to take young children and pets with you, even at the risk of your own inconvenience. Think about it—the last thing you want is a concerned samaritan breaking your window to rescue your pet or child, resulting in potentially embarrassing scene. Not only that, even your car insurance may not cover for damages resulting from a rescue, if they feel the damage occurred because of your negligence to prevent damage to your vehicle.