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Remember that time you accidentally left a casserole sitting in the back seat of your car on the way to a potluck, and the blazing sun baked it a second time?
Well, forgetfulness could become a thing of the past for Nissan owners.
The automaker plans to make a back-seat alert system standard equipment on new vehicles in the U.S.
The technology, which triggers specially engineered vehicle chirping to alert motorists when they’ve left something in the back seat, made its debut on the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder.
The system is helpful to keep kids, pets, electronics and Chinese restaurant leftovers safe. It makes sure drivers remember to grab food that could spoil and serves as a reminder to grab something important.
Similar systems that deliver dashboard reminders are available in other automaker vehicles. But Nissan is making its system standard on all sedans, crossovers, SUVs and four-door pickups.
The rear-door alert system will be added to eight Nissan models for the 2019 model year and spread to the rest of the company’s four-door models by the 2022 model year.
Nissan engineers Elsa Foley and Marlene Mendoza developed the system. Mendoza got the idea after leaving a pan of lasagna in the back seat of her car overnight.
“You know when they give you leftovers in an aluminum pan?” she said. “The next day, my whole car smelled like lasagna.”
Mendoza and Foley were new moms living in Nashville when they devised the patented system. They hope the system helps keep children safe.
“We would read reports of incidents in which parents accidentally left a kid in the car, and I always worried that would happen to me,” Mendoza said. “So we started brainstorming, and that’s when we came up with the idea.”
The system tracks rear-door usage and remembers to alert the driver to check the back seat after completing their trip. It starts with a text alert on the dashboard: “Check back seat for all articles.” It then progresses to what Nissan calls “subtle but distinctive chirps of the horn.”
When consumers buy a Nissan, dealers give them the option of activating the system. Drivers can later deactivate the system temporarily or permanently.
But that might not be a good idea. Nissan warned that even when the temperature outside is fewer than 70 degrees, the interior of a car can heat up to more than 110 degrees.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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