Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke: Evaluation of Preventative Technologies

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National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence

In 2018 and 2019, pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH) was the leading cause of nontraffic child fatalities involving vehicles in the United States. Legislation is being introduced in Congress to require passenger vehicles to be equipped with rear seat reminder technologies (RSRTs), which would help to mitigate against PVH. In a previous study, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) conducted an extensive literature review to better understand the circumstances under which PVH occurs, identify the available preventive technologies, and examine what is necessary for an optimized PVH-prevention solution. The current study builds on that work by conducting a functional evaluation of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and aftermarket RSRT implementations, focusing on occupant detection methods and driver/bystander notification approaches. Using scenarios based on real-world PVH cases, this effort was a hands-on evaluation of how each RSRT implementation performed, accounting for OEM and select aftermarket RSRTs available at the time of data collection. Each implementation received ratings for reliability and effectiveness, offering opportunities to examine and discuss specific RSRT advantages and shortcomings.

transportation safety, child safety, safety technologies, automotive, pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH), rear seat reminder technology (RSRT)