DETROIT — The 2017 GMC Acadia midsize SUV features an industry-first "Rear Seat Reminder" designed to prevent the driver from inadvertently leaving children and pets in a vehicle during hot weather.
The feature is a major leap forward, since a child dies from heatstroke about once every 10 days in the U.S. from being left alone in a hot vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"In fact, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-vehicle crash fatality for kids 14 and younger," NHTSA said.
Twenty-four children died as a result of vehicular heatstroke in 2015, according to a report from the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San Jose State University.
The Rear Seat Reminder is a standard feature on the 2017 Acadia, which is on sale now at GMC dealerships. The feature is not available on the 2017 Acadia Limited.
The GM-patented feature reminds drivers to check the backseat as they leave the vehicle by sounding an alarm and displaying a message in the driver-information center that reads, "Rear Seat Reminder/Look in Rear Seat."
The feature activates when either 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 running.
The Rear Seat Reminder cannot detect items in the third row.
"With this new feature, we are leading the charge to address this ongoing problem," said Tricia Morrow, GM global safety strategy engineer, in a statement on Monday.
Edmunds says: This new technology in the 2017 Acadia can help parents and caregivers to prevent a tragedy.