As Europe enters the summer season, Ford highlights its Rear Occupant Alert. The safety feature reminder drivers to check the back seats when the rear passenger doors have been opened at the start of a journey.
Ford Europe said that experts advice drivers to look inside the vehicle before they lock it to avoid leaving a child or pet in their car. Rear Occupant Alert acts as a reminder on those occasions when the driver has opened the rear passenger doors at the start of a journey.
In such instances, the technology is activated after the vehicle has stopped and the ignition turned off.
A visual alert is shown on the vehicle’s center display for ten seconds, or until cancelled. An audible warning is also sounded, reminding the driver to check the rear seats before exiting the vehicle.
As well as alerting to the presence of a child or animal, the system could also remind drivers if they have placed an item of value in the rear, such as a laptop or handbag that may be at risk of theft if left behind.
It's also available on the Mustang Mach-E, which conceals further clever features within its full-length glass roof, Ford said.
A special glass coating helps the interior of Mach-E models (equipped with the optional roof) stay cooler in the summer, and warmer in the winter. An inner layer between the glass helps protect against ultraviolet rays.
To emphasize the importance of Rear Occupant Alert, Ford commissioned an ice sculptor to create an “Ice Baby” and an “Ice Dog,” then placed them inside a car at its Weather Factory facility in Cologne, Germany.
Outside the car, the temperature was set to 35° Celsius. But within 19 minutes, temperatures inside the car had risen to 50° Celsius, Ford said. As a result, the ice sculptures started melting immediately.
The ice sculptor created the likeness of a year-old baby holding a toy, and that of a full-sized Labrador dog, wearing a dog collar and sitting inside a pet crate in the rear of a Focus Wagon.
Testing at the facility, where Ford usually puts its cars through a range of environmental tests, demonstrated how the greenhouse effect can affect vehicles. Short wave radiation enters through the windows, bounces off the seats and dashboard, which in turn heats up the vehicle.
Ford said that advocacy group KidsandCars.org identified leaving children in cars, and children being trapped after gaining access to vehicles on their own, as major risks of death through hyperthermia or heat stroke. A child’s body overheats three to five times faster than an adult’s.
Ford added that in the US, 39 deaths occur each year on average, which is one every nine days. Instances in Europe are less common, but deaths have been reported in Ireland, France, and Belgium, with passers-by sometimes taking matters into their own hands to try to prevent tragedies from occurring.
Photos from Ford