Skip to Main Navigation
The transportation authorization law signed on July 6, 2012, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), stated that the Secretary of the Department of Transportation “may initiate research into effective ways to minimize the risk of hyperthermia or hypothermia to children or other unattended passengers in rear seating positions.” The law specifically mentions technology capable of providing alerts regarding child passengers, which has been a focus of NHTSA research. Efforts have included monitoring the development of technology-based solutions, conducting product evaluations, and development of a generalized test procedure specific to these reminder systems intended to prevent a child from being left behind in a parked vehicle.
    •  Press Briefing:

      NHTSA and Safe Kids Worldwide Encourage Parents and Caregivers to Take Proactive Steps in Preventing Child Heatstroke in Hot Vehicles

    • Functional Assessment of Unattended Child Reminder Systems (DOT HS 812 187) July 2015
      Leaving unattended children in parked vehicles can lead to heat stroke and death, even if only left for a few minutes. These completely preventable deaths warrant special attention. NHTSA conducted research to address the problem by investigating electronic reminders. An unattended child reminder system should have the capability to detect the presence of a child in the vehicle and provide notifications intended to prevent a driver from forgetting the child, either when the vehicle is shut off or if the driver leaves the vehicle vicinity. This report describes observations of system capabilities and outlines methods for assessing both add-on and integrated reminder systems, including assessments of commercially available products. The assessments revealed that the reminder systems were able to detect the presence of a child surrogate in the child restraint seat, though some required more attentive setup by the user. Notification types varied, but all of the evaluated systems provided one or more notifications to remind the user of a child’s presence at the end of a vehicle trip. The level of required user interaction varied among the systems tested, though some required no additional input from the user after initial installation. Absent a framework defining key features and operating parameters, developers of these systems lacked a basis on which to benchmark their designs. The knowledge imparted in this new methodology may assist developers in designing more robust products that are marketed and designed as safety systems to protect children from heat stroke risk in automobiles.

See also:


U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
1-800-424-9153 (TTY)