It's brilliantly simple.
A couple of years ago, a pair of Nissan engineers who are also mothers with young children were concerned about the growing phenomenon where drivers left children, pets, and even food in the rear seat of a vehicle on hot days. Aside from food simply spoiling and some money lost, the consequences of accidentally leaving a living being in the rear seat with the windows up in the heavy seat can be fatal. These engineers decided to do something about it and came up with a brilliant and extremely simple solution. Rear Door Alert (RDA) technology monitors when a rear door is opened and closed before and after the vehicle is in motion.
For 2020, the system is now standard tech on 12 models, including the new Nissan Rogue and the more affordable Versa, Sentra, and Kicks.
It was originally only standard on the 2018 Pathfinder and last year expanded to all four-door vehicles. Nissan aims to have it available on every model with rear doors by 2022. It's kind of surprising no one thought of this technology before and if you didn't already know, here's how it works:
Drivers will receive a system notification and several horn honks once the vehicle has been parked and the ignition shut off, but only if at least one of the rear doors was opened before the trip.
If a rear door was re-opened upon arrival at the destination, then there won't be an alert. If a rear door was previously opened, the system will first show a notification in the instrument panel. This alert will then progress to "subtle, distinctive chirps of the horn." Drivers can also shut off RDA if they want.
Given the seriousness of the issue at hand, other automakers have also pledged to have similar systems in place by 2025, if not sooner. But Nissan was the first to think of it and roll it out.