NHTSA investigating seat heaters that singe passengers
At the agency’s bequest, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) began looking into the matter last March to set a failsafe temperature seat heaters should reach, weigh the advantages of automatic shut-off and whether the location of indicator lights should be standardized, according to a breaking news post by Jayne O'Donnell and Meghan Hoyer writing for USA TODAY.
The NHTSA action came after USA TODAY focused attention on safety advocate Sean Kane and other doctors, notably David Greenhalgh, chief of burns for the Shriner’s Hospitals, pointing out how dangerous seat heaters can be to the sensory deprived.
For example Paraplegics and quadriplegics, who drive specially equipped vehicles, frequently aren’t even aware the heater is on, and even less mindful of its temperature. In rare instances, this has resulted in regrettable injury.
Notably, heated automobile seats have been around since the 1966 Cadillac Sedan and Coupe de Ville first introduced them, such as the one pictured here. Cadillac once was a leading brand for adding new technology.
Unconvinced at the time, NHTSA chief David Strickland stated last May, "the rate of alleged injury due to seat heaters is extremely low," speaking to Kane, and didn't demonstrate "an unreasonable safety risk."
Kane countered by saying even if there is no fire or crash, heaters burning people is a defect that should justify recalls.