Tyler Cestia left his son Thomas in his truck on a hot morning in June two years ago. He forgot to drop off Thomas at the babysitter on the way to his office. It wasn’t until lunchtime that he realized he hadn’t seen the babysitter that morning. He found Thomas in the car seat behind the driver’s seat, but it was too late, and Thomas was pronounced dead. About 40 children die of heatstroke in cars each year in the United States. Child-safety advocates believe that new technology could help prevent these deaths, such as interior motion sensors that can detect a child in the back seat and alert the driver. However, automakers and regulators have not made this technology standard in new vehicles, frustrating safety experts. Federal regulators are developing rules that would require lights and chimes to remind drivers to check the back seat, but it won’t take effect until 2025. Major automakers have pledged to include basic back-seat reminder systems in all new vehicles by 2025, but more advanced systems remain rare. Many hot-car deaths lead to criminal charges, but experts argue that it’s not negligence or bad parenting, but rather a result of humans being forgetful. Reminder lights and chimes in newer vehicles advise drivers to check the back seat, but they cannot detect whether a child is in the car. Radar-based systems can detect slight movements and rise and fall of chests, but they are not widely available.
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