Last year, Hyundai debuted its Rear Occupant Alert (ROA) on the Santa Fe SUV, which reminds drivers of occupants – such as children – that have been left in the rear seat of the car. This safety feature is an ingenious solution to a rather dangerous phenomenon.

As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States reminded motorists on National Heatstroke Prevention Day yesterday not to leave their children unattended in their vehicle, the company promised to fit ROA as standard on all models in the US by 2022.

The Santa Fe and Palisade already come fitted with the system, and the new Sonata, coming to dealers later this year, will also get standard-fit ROA. Hyundai also said it will offer either its ultrasonic ROA system or a similar sensor-based system as an option on more models in the future.

The standard ROA system senses if a rear door was opened or closed before the car is started, then provides a reminder in the instrument cluster upon exiting the vehicle. As the name suggests, the ultrasonic version uses a sensor to detect any movement of children or pets in the second-row seats, once the driver leaves the vehicle and locks the doors. If there is movement, it will honk the horn and, if equipped with Blue Link connectivity, send an alert to their smartphone.

It may seem unthinkable for parents to forget about their children and leaving them in their car, but it is a real, surprisingly common and often fatal problem, says NHTSA. According to the website NoHeatstroke.org, there have been 24 cases of children dying from heatstroke in cars in the US this year alone, with more than half caused by an adult forgetting about them.

The agency also warns parents not to knowingly leave children in parked cars, even when running a quick errand. A child’s body temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult’s, so a spike in in-car temperature can be exceedingly dangerous in a short period of time. And NHTSA says that parking in the shade and leaving the windows rolled down offers little respite – so does leaving the air-conditioning on.

Remember, parents – it’s better to be safe than sorry, so never leave your children unattended in your car, and always take extra precaution to remind yourself that your child is in the back seat.