FCC rule enables technology to prevent child deaths in hot cars

WASHINGTON — Systems that could save the lives of kids, who are accidentally left in hot cars, are one step closer to being available in more vehicles. The move comes after the Federal Communications Commission approved rules that help enable the technology.

“You just never think it’s going to happen, like it’s not going to happen to you,” Pamela Cestia said, as she fought back tears recalling the death of her young son, Thomas.

One morning in 2021, the 2.5-year-old didn’t make a sound in the car with his dad, Tyler, so they never stopped at the babysitter. Tyler would find his son unresponsive in his truck hours later.

Pamela recalled the vehicle had a reminder to check the back seat, but no technology that senses or detects life in the car.

“It hurts,” Pamela said. “It’s just crazy to me, like and just heartbreaking that if the technology is out there for something, why aren’t we using.”

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation said this new FCC decision expands radar-based technologies. That helps them put new features inside your car. It impacts things like air bag deployment, seat belt reminders and occupant detection.

“This allows the technology to detect when there is an object and more importantly, to detect when that object is moving even just slightly,” Hilary Cain, Vice President, Technology, Innovation & Mobility Policy at Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said. “So, that could be, for example, a chest of a sleeping child… …it can differentiate between again, a sleeping child or maybe a motionless suitcase.”

“Anticipate that we will start to see more and more auto companies rely on this radar-based technology for these rear seat reminder systems in just a matter of a couple of years,” Cain said.

Already this year, at least four children have died in hot cars

“I think my son would still be here today,” Cestia added. “If it could save one life, then I think it would be worth it.”

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