Why it matters to you
Nissan’s Rear Door Alert is a relatively simple piece of tech that could be a big help to busy drivers.
With summer underway, there is increased concern about drivers accidentally leaving small children or pets in the back seat on hot days. Nissan is trying to solve that problem with technology.
Nissan’s Rear Door Alert reminds drivers to check the back seat before walking away from their cars. The system launches next month on the 2018 Pathfinder, which is appropriate enough given that the three-row crossover is a family-oriented vehicle. Nissan plans to offer Rear Door Alert on other models in the future as well.
Rear Door Alert was created by two Nissan engineers who also happen to be mothers: Elsa Foley, an industrial engineer and mother of two, and Marlene Mendoza, a mechanical engineer with three children. They got the idea after Mendoza left a pan of lasagna on the back seat of her car, which made the interior smell for days, Foley said in a Nissan press release.
Concerned about what might happen if more precious cargo were left unattended, Mendoza and Foley designed a system that honks the horn if something is left in the back seat. Nissan claims the honking distinguishes its system from those of other automakers. General Motors, for examples, offers a rear-sear occupancy alert on models like the Chevrolet Equinox.
Nissan’s system works by monitoring when the rear doors are opened or closed. If the doors are opened prior to a trip and not opened again at the end, Rear Door Alert begins sending warnings, starting with a message on the instrument panel, and progressing to the horn. It can be disabled in situations when the driver intends to leave something in the back seat, according to Nissan.
Features like Rear Door Alert could provide parents and pet owners with extra peace of mind. But it’s unclear whether people who are so distracted that they’re capable of ignoring a live human being or animal in the back seat will be prompted to turn around by a warning message and a few beeps of the horn.
Nissan is increasing the amount of safety tech in its vehicles. For the 2018 model year, it will make autonomous emergency braking standard on most of its volume models, including the Altima, Leaf, Maxima, Murano, Pathfinder, Rogue, Rogue Sport, and Sentra. That does not include manual-transmission and NISMO versions of the latter model.