New radar technology could reduce deaths of children in hot cars

Radar sensitive enough to detect breathing baby

New super-sensitive radar technology could help prevent the tragic deaths of children who become trapped in hot cars.
New super-sensitive radar technology could help prevent the tragic deaths of children who become trapped in hot cars.

SAN ANTONIO – New super-sensitive radar technology could help prevent the tragic deaths of children who become trapped in hot cars.

Sadly, it happens every year. On average, 38 children die when they are left behind in a car or they access a car that becomes dangerously hot.

Ten minutes is all it takes for a car to reach 100 degrees on an 85 degree day, tests have shown.

“Children’s bodies can’t efficiently regulate their temperature, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, their bodies can heat up three to five times faster than adults,” said Emily Thomas, automotive engineer with Consumer Reports.

In an effort to save lives, the Federal Communications Commission granted waivers, clearing the way for automakers to install in-car radar systems. The new technology is sensitive enough to detect a baby breathing. The system would monitor for children or pets and alert the driver to take action.

“This new technology has the potential to save lives by not just reminding parents to check the backseat, but actually detecting an occupant,” Thomas said. “But, it will be a long time before we see it in every car.”

Some cars already come equipped with backseat reminder systems.

Regardless of any technology, it’s imperative that caregivers are extra mindful, especially as the weather heats up. No parent thinks they could possibly forget their child in the car, but it happens. A change in routine for an exhausted or distracted parent can lead to forgetfulness.

Safety advocates suggest making it a habit to always check the backseat, put something like a handbag or cellphone in the back seat that the parent would immediately need, or put the child’s belongings in the front seat as a reminder. It’s also wise to ask the child’s daycare or preschool to call if the child does not show up.


About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.