“Keeping Cars Safe for Kids: Working to Prevent Pediatric Heatstroke” Forum Brought Industry Thought Leaders Together to Raise Public Awareness and Discuss Technology Advancements

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (Auto Innovators) today hosted a discussion about the steps all of us can take to raise awareness and prevent tragedies caused by pediatric vehicular heatstroke. The event was part of the Autos2050 “Future Driven” forum series, which provides a platform to explore auto industry topics. “Keeping Cars Safe for Kids: Working to Prevent Pediatric Heatstroke” was also part of a public awareness campaign by Auto Innovators to raise awareness around preventable pediatric heatstroke.

Joining Auto Innovators President and CEO John Bozzella for the digital discussion were Brian Latouf, Chief Safety Officer at Hyundai Motor NA; Amy Artuso, Senior Program Manager, Mobility Safety Impact at National Safety Council; and Bill Stewart, Senior Director for Vehicle Automation and Chassis at Infineon.

“The risks of heatstroke can prove deadly. That’s why consumers and automakers are working together to help ensure that no child is left unattended in a motor vehicle,” said Auto Innovators’ John Bozzella. “And the auto industry is doing its part. That includes boosting awareness. In addition to this Future Driven Forum, the industry has launched an online campaign to spread the word among drivers – and others. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, it’s critical to call 9-1-1 right away. Taking immediate action is key. That’s the message we’re sharing nationwide. This online campaign can be seen on social media across the country. We’re also advertising on media outlets to do our best to make sure parents, caregivers, and everyone else get this important message. We’re not just stopping there, though. Automakers are installing audible and visual rear seat reminders in vehicles. We’ve made an industry commitment to install these reminder systems in all covered cars and light trucks by 2025.”

“What we’re focused on is a holistic approach, not just technology and cars, but communication and making sure people understand that this could happen to you, and it’s not just happening to others,” said Hyundai Motors’ Brian Latouf.

A key part of this holistic approach to preventing pediatric heatstroke is behavior. Increasing public awareness of the risks of leaving a child unattended in the car – consciously or unintentionally – plays a vital role in protecting children from pediatric heatstroke. While everyone has a role to play in preventing heatstroke, raising the awareness of parents and caregivers is key.

“There’s a number of things parents and caregivers can do to prevent this from happening. So many people think this isn’t going to happen to them,” said National Safety Council’s Amy Artuso. “We want to create reminders; we want to create habits because a lot of people report change in routines, being on autopilot, or increased stress when these things happen.”

Panelists also weighed in on how advanced Child Occupant Detection technologies and industry partnerships can help boost awareness and prevent pediatric vehicular heatstroke.

“We’re working with a variety of partners to develop our sensing technologies; there are a lot of various tools we have that could be used as part of the solution,” said Infineon’s Bill Stewart.

Pediatric vehicular heatstroke is preventable, but sadly claimed the lives of 882 children since 1998, including 53 in 2019. Today’s discussion outlined behavioral practices for parents and caregivers, along with advanced vehicle technology, to help keep children safe and prevent these tragedies. Auto Innovators is once again partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other stakeholders to raise awareness. This public awareness campaign, which will run throughout the summer, includes events such as the “Keeping Cars Safe for Kids” forum and digital ads reminding parents and caregivers to “look before they lock” to ensure no children are left unattended in a cars and are also unable to gain access to vehicles by keeping keys out of reach from children.

Auto Innovators has continued to host exciting conversations and outline key measures needed for the success of a competitive auto industry in a series of documents including its recently released Driver Monitoring Principles, the Electric Vehicle Agenda, the Innovation Agenda, and the AV Policy Roadmap.