From 2023, ANCAP’s new safety criteria will test ‘child presence detection’ systems – alerts that will remind drivers to check the back seats before leaving their parked vehicle.
More new cars on sale in Australia from next year are expected to come with alert systems that automatically remind drivers to check the back seats are empty – and no children have been left behind – once the car is parked.
The introduction of the technology follows a number of tragic deaths where parents in a hurry have forgotten a sleeping child in the back seat and left them to perish in a hot car.
Australia’s independent new-car safety authority will include the child-seat reminder technology as part of rolling changes to its updated protocols due to be implemented from next year.
It will be part of the criteria that will be counted towards a five-star score.
Certain advanced CPD systems can notify the driver or emergency services if a child has inadvertently been left in a locked car.
In a report by 9 News, Kidsafe Australia claims more than 5000 children are left unattended in locked cars every year – resulting in the deaths of 10 children over the past five years.
In addition to rear-seat occupant seat belt warnings – which are only activated when the car is turned on – active CPD systems can monitor the car when it is turned off, triggering audible and visual warnings.
While some CPD systems can send a notification or alert to a driver’s phone, more advanced versions of the technology can automatically open a car’s windows or activate its air-conditioning in an attempt to reduce the temperature inside.
A number of cars fitted with passive CPD systems can remind drivers to check the rear seats if the back doors were opened after the car was unlocked – assuming an occupant was placed in the second or third row of seats.
New cars will be awarded points by ANCAP if its CPD system achieves ‘good’ results across the test criteria – the same top scores which can be given in autonomous emergency braking (AEB) car-to-car rear and crossing tests.
Drive contacted a number of Australia’s best-selling car companies to find out which models are equipped with CPD systems.
Japanese car giant Toyota, Australia’s most popular brand by sales volume, offers seven different models with CPD systems.
A spokesperson for Toyota Australia told Drive its Yaris, Yaris Cross, Corolla hatch and sedan, Corolla Cross, C-HR, RAV4, and LandCruiser 300 are fitted with a system which notifies drivers to check the rear seats if the car believes an occupant may be sitting in the second row.
Toyota’s system activates if a rear door is opened and closed after the engine is started or when the engine is started approximately 10 minutes after a rear door was opened then closed.
When car’s ignition is turned off, an audible warning will accompany a message in the multi-information display , telling the driver to check the rear seats.
The system does not function when the engine has not been started at all.
According to a spokesperson for Mazda Australia, none of its locally-delivered models are currently sold with CPD.
Out of the five Mitsubishi models currently on sale in Australia, only the new-generation Outlander is equipped with a CPD system.
Marketed as ‘rear seat alert’, the Mitsubishi Outlander’s system will activate if the rear door is opened before the front door when the car is unlocked, producing a reminder in the SUV’s digital dash.
This reminder can either be manually dismissed by using controls on the steering wheel or by opening the rear door before the front door.
If the driver locks the car without clearing the alert message, the horn will sound and the front lights will flash until the car is unlocked.
Seven out of 11 models from the South Korean brand are equipped with CPD systems (marketed as rear occupant alert or ROA).
The current Kia Cerato, Stinger, Carnival, Niro, Sorento, Sportage and EV6 are equipped with ‘door history ROA’, which alerts the driver to check the rear seats if the rear doors have been opened at any point since unlocking the vehicle.
The Kia Carnival Platinum and Sorento GT-Line variants are fitted with an ‘advanced ROA’ system, using ultrasonic sensors to detect and identify back-seat occupants, displaying alerts on the car’s dash, sounding the horn and linking to the owner’s Kia smartphone app.
Fellow South Korean car-maker Hyundai introduced rear occupant alert (ROA) in certain models from 2018.
According to Hyundai, 10 out of 14 models sold in Australia are equipped with ROA – fitted to the i20 N, i30 Sedan, Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe, Palisade, Ioniq 5, Staria and Staria Load (Crew van variant only).
A spokesperson for MG Australia told Drive none of the Chinese company’s four models sold locally are fitted with CPD systems.
US car giant Ford sells nine models in Australia, with five of its cars equipped with CPD systems.
According to Ford, the Ranger, Everest, Puma and Escape include reminders for front-row occupants to check the rear seats when the car is turned off.
While the technology is also available on the Fiesta ST, supply is reportedly running low after Ford announced it would end local sales of the small hot hatchback this year.
Neither of Isuzu’s Australian models – the D-Max ute and MU-X SUV – are equipped with CPD systems.
According to Subaru, the BRZ sports coupe is the only one of its six models sold in Australia which is not equipped with a CPD system. The Forester, Impreza, Outback, WRX and XV all include a ‘rear seat reminder’.
The system is activated when the rear doors are opened and closed after the car is unlocked, prompting the driver to “confirm the presence of passengers and cargo in the rear”.
When the car is turned off, the multi-information display in the car’s dash will tell the driver to “look in the rear seat”.
A spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz Australia told Drive none of its models are currently fitted with CPD systems.
Nissan’s three new SUVs are set to be equipped with CPD systems – coming as a part of a major update for the Japanese car-maker this year after numerous delays.
The new-generation Nissan Pathfinder, X-Trail and Qashqai will all have rear seat alert, activating when the rear door is opened before the front door.
After the engine is switched off, a message on the dash will remind the driver to check the rear seats, which can either be manually dismissed by using controls on the steering wheel or by opening the rear door before the front door.
If the driver locks the car without clearing the alert message, the horn will sound and the front lights will flash until the car is unlocked again.
A spokesperson for Volkswagen Group Australia – the local outpost of Volkswagen, Skoda and Cupra – told Drive none of its cars are currently fitted with CPD systems.
None of BMW’s Australian model line-up currently has a CPD system.
Suzuki currently sells six models in Australia – the Baleno, Ignis, Jimny, S-Cross, Swift and Vitara. None currently carry CPD technology.
Honda has recently replaced half of its four Australian models with new-generation replacements, with both the Civic sedan and HR-V SUV gaining CPD technology.
According to a Honda Australia spokesperson, new Civic and HR-V are equipped with a rear seat reminder which alerts drivers to the possible presence of passengers in the rear seats.
If the rear doors are opened within 10 minutes of the car being opened, the rear seat reminder is activated, triggering a visual and audible reminder on the dash to check the rear seats when the car is turned off.
As the luxury offshoot of Japanese car giant Toyota, Lexus, has equipped five of its six Australian models with CPD technology, providing one of the most advanced systems on sale.
Available on the UX, NX, LX, LS and ES, the Lexus ‘rear seat reminder’ is similar to those found in a number of other cars from other manufacturers, becoming active when the rear doors are opened within ten minutes of the car starting.
Drivers will be shown a “check rear seat” message when the car is turned off. If the car is then locked without the rear doors being opened, 10 beeps will sound.
If the rear doors have not been opened after this audible warning, a message will be sent out to owners seven minutes later via the Lexus Connected App, telling the user to check the car’s rear seat.
In addition to this, all current Lexus models sold in Australia (including the LC) are equipped with an intruder sensor, designed to sound an alarm if motion is detected within the car.
None of Audi’s Australian model line-up currently includes a CPD system.