Evenflo Car Seat That Reminds Driver Child Is In Car Is Promising, Not Perfect Yet

Technology can’t solve all of our problems, but maybe there’s a technological solution that can help with a tragedy that has affected parents of all walks of life: leaving small children in hot cars to overheat and die. The happens to an average of 38 kids every year, and car seat maker Evenflo responded to safety advocates by making a seat and harness that integrates with your car’s electronics.

Before you insist that this could never happen to you because you’re a good parent, review the Pulitzer-Prize-winning article on the subject from the Washington Post that explains the mechanism in our brains that leads a few dozen parents every year to leave their children to die in hot cars. If you have a brain, a child, and a car, it could happen.

Cars heat up quickly, too: check out this public service video made by a dad who sat in a car with a camera to show the world how hot a vehicle can get, and how quickly.

The way to prevent it from happening is to create external reminders, like leaving your purse or work badge in the backseat with the child, or by adding reminders to child safety seats, which is what Evenflo is trying to do. They created a child car seat meant to prevent this problem, which uses a wireless sensor and your car’s electronics to set off alerts.

Naturally, our seat-testing colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports bought Evenflo’s new seat with what they’re calling “SensorSafe,” and tested its safety features and the new system to prevent kids from being left behind. The idea behind the system is simple: by making sensors and reminders part of the electronics of the car and the seat buckle itself, the driver doesn’t need to remember to activate anything.

The clip only works with certain Evenflo seats and with cars that are model year 2008 or newer, and some hybrid cars will need a different receiver plug for the vehicle end of the system. The system will make your car chime once the ignition is off if the buckle is still fastened, or if the buckle comes unfastened while the car is moving.



Consumer Reports tested the clip with a variety of cars, and did find a problem: it didn’t connect consistently with vehicles from Acura, Dodge, Kia, Land Rover, Mazda, and Subaru in their test fleet. (Remember, the end of the system that’s attached to the child with the buckle is wireless.)

When they let Evenflo know about this, the company was able to replicate it with some car brands and not with others. They’re working on an “enhancement” to the system, but noted that “it is extremely unlikely that a consumer will experience any integration challenges similar to those in the Consumer Reports testing.” The obvious solution: test the seat before you make it part of your everyday routine. Try driving around with the buckle fastened but without your child in the car.

Evenflo SensorSafe Car Seat Alerts Parents to Presence of Child Still in the Car [Consumer Reports]

Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime? [Washington Post]
Yes, You Could Forget Your Kid in the Car—I Did [Time]

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