By on December 6, 2016

GM rear seat reminder dashboard

General Motors’ Rear Seat Reminder technology, designed to alert drivers to check the back seat when exiting their vehicles, will be offered on a multitude of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC vehicles by the 2018 model year.

Having made its debut in the 2017 GMC Acadia earlier this year, the technology aims to prevent heatstroke-related deaths and reduce the number of children left unattended in parking lots.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists heatstroke as one of the leading causes of non-traffic vehicle-related fatalities for children under fourteen. According to KidsAndCars.org, that works out to an average of 37 fatalities per year. The majority of the time, those children were simply forgotten in the back.

GM’s Rear Seat Reminder works by monitoring the vehicle’s rear doors. The feature activates whenever a rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or if they are opened and closed while the vehicle is already running. When the vehicle is turned off after a door activation, the system sounds five audible chimes and a display message reminder drivers to “Look in Rear Seat.”

Still, you have to wonder if a succession of not incredibly urgent tones is enough to grab someone’s attention. I once spent twenty minutes in an Uber where the driver effectively ignored the seatbelt chime for the trip’s duration. It’s also worth noting that the system doesn’t actually sense items or people in the rear seat. It can only recognize if the rear doors were opened and shut prior to setting off.

While it’s despicable that we exist in a reality where there is a calling for this type of technology, if it saves a single life, it will have been worth implementing.

“This new technology developed by General Motors will give busy parents and caregivers the important reminder to always check the back seat,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide in a statement. “The safest way to protect a child from heatstroke is to never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, and features like Rear Seat Reminder, coupled with continued public education, can help combat this preventable tragedy.”

Since the technology is an industry-first safety feature, don’t be surprised to see similar systems cropping up on other brands — but not before it arrives on slew of updated offerings from General Motors. If you happen to be a self-absorbed or criminally forgetful person with children, these are the cars for you:

2017 Buick Lacrosse
2017 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV
2017 Cadillac CT6
2017 Chevrolet Cruze and Cruze Hatchback
2017 Chevrolet Malibu
2017 Chevrolet Tahoe
2017 Chevrolet Suburban
2017 Chevrolet Silverado
2017 Chevrolet Colorado
2017 GMC Yukon
2017 GMC Yukon XL
2017 GMC Sierra
2017 GMC Canyon
2018 Cadillac XT5
2018 Cadillac CTS and CTS-V
2018 Cadillac ATS
2018 Chevrolet Equinox

GM rear seat reminder dashboard

[Images: General Motors]

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77 Comments on “GM Adds Rear Seat Reminder to 20 Models, Targets Subpar Parents...”


  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Obligatory “back in my day” survivorship bias-laced or thinly-veiled eugenics comments inbound.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Hey, what happened to 20, 40, 60, etc MPH? You think you’re Porsche?! No, you’re Gross Motors…(puke)

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      Worthless losers! Those increments are 2.5MPH… WTF?

      • 0 avatar
        Tosh

        And how the frack do you read Volts? 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, ooops that’s not right. Backward: 19, 18, 17, 16, 14, not right either…? Instrument FAIL!

        • 0 avatar
          Tosh

          I’m not even going to try hurting my head on that temp scale! What’s wrong with you QC people at GM dashboard HQ?

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Believe it or not, there is some thought put into the design. The large white tics are at 2.5 V increments on the voltmeter, 25° on the temp gauge, and 10 MPH on the speedometer. It was decided that putting any more numbers on the gauge would make it too crowded and hard to read.

            At any rate, any gauge besides the speedo and tach is almost always a dummy gauge, and the needle will only move out of the normal position if something’s really borked. AFAIK, the GMT900 trucks were the last to have real oil pressure gauges that moved with RPM; I dunno if K2XX trucks do.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            But the thing is that 19 volts or 320 degrees indicates something seriously wrong but so does a temp over say 260 or voltage over 16. So they could have put lower high numbers and given a more normal looking layout.

            Of course as you mention they are usually idiot gauges that display what they want you to see and are not accurate representations of what is actually happening. Oil pressure gauges commonly read at the same point as long as the pressure is above ~10 or so PSI. Temp and Volt gauges typically have a wide band where they will give the same reading. Sure you can watch your car warm up on the temp gauge but the normal reading may represent a 30-40 or more degree range.

            I recently got a new bluetooth OBDII dongle that works with all communication protocalls. Combined with the FORSCAN program which allows you to do pretty much everything that Ford’s own IDS system can. Watching the ICP computer is very interesting. For example the fuel gauge reads higher than the Fuel level input when the tank is in the upper half and lower than the fuel level input when dropping to around the 25% point and below. So for example it will show the fuel level input as 65% but the gauge reading at 75%.

            The other interesting thing is how the Intelligent 4WD system works in our Escape Hybrid. It does not matter if you are on bone dry pavement, accelerate at a normal pace and you’ll see the “ON” flag turn on and the duty cycle on the diff clutch up at 20-30% even with zero wheel slip indicated by the individual wheel speed data.

          • 0 avatar
            Tosh

            No, I don’t believe you if you say the thought process was: “Hmm, the indices are too crowded, so let’s remove ONE and space the rest out evenly!”
            FAIL!

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I never said “one.” What’s your explanation, then? If you’re gonna spew vitriol, at least put some thought into it. Better to light a candle, etc., etc.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Maybe drive up beside one for starters? But I don’t know what you expect them to say :)

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    My self-righteous self would dismiss this as yet another tool for retarded parents who should focus on actual parenting duties instead of being fixated by their Facebook updates on their smartphone.

    Then I remember that this sort of unfortunate distraction with fatal consequences could happen to anyone.

    There was one such event this year in Laval, Québec where the father forgot his child in the rear seat. Poor guy was taking an unusual route that morning with different stops. That simple change in routine made him forget about the child. The man must have felt devastated.

    I applaud GM for this innovation. It’s one more item that justifies ever rising costs of vehicles but it could save lives.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Yeah I’ll bet real money that its mostly “responsible” adults who are getting hit with the heat stroke kids.

      We all like to see the crackhead gamer addict that doesn’t even have a GED roast their kid in the car (because hey your better than that loser bastard and they get what they deserve) but I suspect they would be the outlier.

      Airbags forcing kids into the back seat coupled with your dickhead boss being able to chew you out over missed email seems to be the primary driver for this behavior.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I am perfectly willing to allow OnStar to track my every movement and send me in-car targeted advertising whenever my fatass comes within 50 miles of a Dunkin Donuts but I will not stand (partly because my a ss is so fat) for this innocuous chime!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed, Cactuar.

      This could happen to anyone. I’m sympathetic to parents who suffer such a tragedy.

      The put-downs by the author are misplaced, IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        soberD

        Forgetting your baby is in the backseat doesn’t make you evil or even a bad parent.

        It does mean you are far too distracted by other things (late for work, phone calls, facebook, etc) and shouldn’t be driving them around anyway.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    For 2018, General Motors will have a warning system center-gauges that will remind drivers to check and see if they’re wearing underwear and pants!

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    This is the kind of thing that’s easy to ridicule, but when you think about what went into developing it, it’s basically nothing. Just some extra lines of code, and leveraging of otherwise existing door monitoring wiring, in dash display, etc. So for basically peanuts (a few man hours of coding and testing) you can potentially save a kid’s life? Compare this to something like a backup camera which required more investment given the potential addition of a screen, camera, etc.

    Or, in my case, remind me that my lunch and briefcase are in the back seat so don’t walk all the way to my office before remembering and having to walk all the way back.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      …Or, in my case, remind me that my lunch and briefcase are in the back seat so don’t walk all the way to my office before remembering and having to walk all the way back…

      This. When I read how it worked, this was EXACTLY the benefit that I thought of. Hey, tired, stressed cubicle drone, you left your briefcase in the backseat again.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        Or in my case, remind me when I start my car to check to make sure I have my effing badge so I don’t drive all the way to work without it and realize as I am walking up to the door that I can’t get in.

        • 0 avatar
          OldManPants

          Oh, God how I hated that. Now ours let us just punch in an 8-digit then use our fingerprint.

          Nothing like immediately going back home but not getting to stay there. Pets look at you like “The hell you doin’ back already?!”

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          I HATE that – LOL.

          I just changed jobs and in my old one I couldn’t find my badge. I was just using temp ones and getting roasted at reception that I needed a new one.

          I found the one I lost 18 months ago in my home office (replaced and I lost that one about 2 weeks before leaving). So when I left I turned the old lost one into HR with my laptop.

          I just found the “new” lost one buried in the second tier of my second console. Why I put it there in the first place, I will never know.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      It’s a far better “free” safety innovation than GM’s previous: daytime running lights. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot to turn the rest of my lights on because the headlights were already on. I’m sure that’s safer.

      • 0 avatar
        Lack Thereof

        I thought all GM cars had the green DRL warning on the dashboard. Kind of hard to miss in my opinion. It looks just like the high-beam warning light, but in green instead of blue, so if you can’t notice that, you probably also drive around with your high-beams on, blinding everyone.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Hopefully you can turn off this nanny in the Vehicle Settings menu.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    On the headline: Most (though not all) of these cases are not, in fact, the result of “subpar parents”; they are a simple (tragic) brain fart, usually caused by a disruption in routine. (i.e. Every Monday, Spouse-1 usually takes the kid to daycare, but Spouse-1 actually is out of town. Spouse-2 puts the kid in the car, but otherwise sticks to the Monday routine, which doesn’t involve a trip to daycare.)

    Even for things that are REALLY IMPORTANT, our brains simply don’t handle changes to routine very well, to tragic results.

    Gene Weingarten at the Washington Post did a whole Pulitzer-winning article about this; just Google “Weingarten Fatal Distraction” If you can make it through the whole article without shedding a tear, you are made of much sterner stuff than I am.

    All that said, I don’t see this not-particularly-annoying alert as very useful; I’d just filter it out myself as “normal noises my car makes”.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I agree with you, with one exception: This wouldn’t be a ‘normal’ noise, because it wouldn’t happen very often.

    • 0 avatar
      NickS

      This is a truly great article by Weingarten for anyone who really wants to understand the issue.

      I only wish it mentioned something about the elephant: the lack of sensible oarental leave policies that are taken as a given in the rest of the world.

  • avatar
    Steverino

    What are the other “leading causes of non-traffic vehicle-related fatalities for children under fourteen?” Asphyxiation, electrocution, stuck in non-reversing power windows or crushed from faulty jack stands–I honestly can’t think of another.

  • avatar
    Chenevert

    Congrats Matt, you are now my least favorite content creator on this site. Clearly you are not a parent. The words subpar and despicable have no place in this article. If a few lines of code can save lives, then I am all for it! As others have already mentioned, these accidents happen when daily routine is broken. Mom always takes child #2 to school, but today mom is very ill so dad does it. Dad gets a on conference call on the drive and becomes distracted, meanwhile child falls asleep in the back seat. Dad drives to work like he has done for the past 15 years and walks into the office not remembering he was supposed to take child to school. Non-parents are not allowed to judge parents. And the first rule of parent club is not to judge other parents.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      …at least not in front of them ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Parent with two daughters; a six year old and an almost 11 month old. Never once in either one of their lives did I remotely forget that one, the other, or both were in the back of the car, despite all the modern distractions you mention in your way too specific example, which sounds a lot like a situation that happened near where I used to work and resulted in the death of the little boy who was left in the back of the car.

      The child is at your mercy. There is no excuse.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      +1 Chenevert

  • avatar
    whitworth

    My problem with technology like this is eventually it becomes mandatory (which is why this stuff is developed) and eventually I will have a rear seat sensor that goes out and I will have to pull the interior apart to replace.

    All because of some retard parent.

    And most of the time, these parents are probably on some substance where a chime or warning isn;t going to make a difference.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      It’s based on the same “door ajar” sensors that have been built into cars for 30+ years now.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        For now; just wait until the government (and lawyers) decide to make these systems mandatory. It isn’t difficult to envision actual weight sensors for each seating position or a requirement for drivers to physically acknowledge a “Children in rear seat Y/N?” message on the touchscreen before unlocking their door.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/slippery-slope

          • 0 avatar
            Sam Hall

            BS, invented by people who are planning to slide us all down a particular slippery slope and don’t want anyone throwing a flag on it before they can get started.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            “people who are planning to slide us all down a particular slippery slope”

            I mean, where do they get the time for all that evil scheming?

            If *I* were enmeshed within the world of all those hot PhD women I gar-on-tee that engineering the behavior of powerless plebes would be last on my to-do list.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged Miata Man

          Anyone believing that “slippery slope” is a fallacy clearly doesn’t pay very much attention to how the world works. I actually envy the naivete.

          Never underestimate the capacity for overreach by faceless bureaucrats.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    You should’ve been watching em, apparently you ain’t parents – Eminem

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    If you’re so zoned out that you would forget your kid in the back seat, a reminder in 6 point font in the dash cluster isn’t going to help you.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      Paragon

      I have some serious concerns that you may be right. I think it would take at least a warning buzzer when you open the drivers door to remind some very preoccupied people. I’m guessing that even listening to music or talk radio would have some folks very preoccupied and lost in another world.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    If it weren’t for this also involving pets I’d just think “Let Darwin Reign”. Hopefully some innocent 4-leggers will be saved from horrible deaths as a result.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I have a ’17 Cruze as a loaner while my ’16 is in the shop overnight. It displayed the “Check Backseat” message as I was getting out.

    Everyone makes mistakes, but I’ve never, at any point, forgotten my kids were in the car with me. I just don’t understand how it happens.

    The GM “nannying” is one thing that annoys me about their vehicles. It chimes for this, bongs for that and displays a message. I know it’s not uncommon, but most vehicles don’t do it for every function. I’m fairly certain my ’16 Cruze will be the last GM car I sign for, unless an SS really wows me in 12 months to look past its GM-ness.

    • 0 avatar

      This.

      My only real gripe in my 2G CTS is the BONG BONG. Anything you do wrong, like drive with the passenger taking time to use the seat belt, or, stop the car and turn it off, if,god forbid, you turned on the fog lights manually, it makes a racket until you take the key out.

      I was happy to see a volume change in the DIC. Sadly, it is LOUDER.

      Clearly it is designed to wake the elderly….there is also a good thing, a “turn signal on too long”, so clearly they know parts of the audience.

      Two kids, none forgotten in the back, now they drive themselves….

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I have to imagine that given all the beeps and boops being produced by cars today, the sort of inattentive parent who forgets their kid is also tuning out all the noises the car is making.

        “Hmm, that’s a new one, wonder what all that racket was about?”

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged Miata Man

          “I demand that your service department fix my car RIGHT NOW so it stops all this incessant beeping!”

          “Um… looks like you have a dead kid back there, ma’am.”

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    You never forget your kid if you get good and drunk and make them drive.

  • avatar
    Sam Hall

    I think the problem here is that it just strikes people as too glib when you say “could happen to any of us”, true though it may be.

    The other thing is that we are talking about 37 deaths, out of around 5 million baby to toddler-aged children in the US each year. So statistically all parents still manage to remember to take the baby to daycare despite phone calls, construction detours, helping the older kid with their school project they forgot about for the last two weeks since it was assigned, etc.

    I’ll also add that I’ve had a couple occasions, as an adult, where I was in the car with a friend, in the front seat, talking, and the friend drove right past my house and on to his. I don’t know if he’d have parked and left me in the car, but smart people can certainly forget what they’re doing, even under no particular duress.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    This reminder seems to be saying, “you should have put your groceries in the trunk/hatch.”

    Can’t they fit the same type of sensor that tells my front seat passenger to put on a seatbelt?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The death rate from these tragedies is roughly equivalent to having a 9-11-2001 event occur every year across the United States population.

    Preventing some of these car deaths via a simple feature is totally worth it.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Ou est le TrunkminderⓇ?!?

  • avatar
    NickS

    I still remember this case:

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Baby-s-car-death-tragic-lesson-for-all-parents-3229489.php#photo-2372151

  • avatar
    dartman

    I understand there is a setting to turn the feature off; it’s labeled “deplorable mode”. Since the hoopleheads refuse to abort, procreate with abandon, and the proliferation of alcohol/tobacco/sugar/red meat is not having the intended Darwin effect of limiting the expanding ignoramus population, this may help.

    Seriously, kudos to GM for adding a nifty little feature at little or no cost. I recently rented a 2017 Chevy Cruze that had the feature and found it and the apple-play to be two very useful features on a otherwise very mundane car.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    ” recently rented a 2017 Chevy Cruze that had the feature and found it and the apple-play to be two very useful features on a otherwise very mundane car.”

    GM managed to ruin what was one of their only competitive (I’d say “good”) vehicles relative to the class (compact sedans)?

    I really liked the last gen Cruze; it felt better built, far more solid and far more refined than the Civic, and especially the Corolla, Sentra & Elantra.

    It had a mini-Audi aesthetic to it, also.

    It was one of the few GM products that was not just good, but probably the best vehicle in its segment.

    It stands to reason that GM probably ruined it.

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