Auto Service World
News   September 1, 2023   by Adam Malik

NHTSA wants extended seat belt reminders

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That ding-ding-ding-ding noise you hear when you don’t put on your seatbelt or take it off while the vehicle is in motion could get longer and apply to more occupants.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a proposed rule to require automakers to equip vehicles with seat belt use warning systems for the right front passenger and rear seats to increase seat belt use.

The proposal would apply to passenger cars, trucks, most buses and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less.

Safety standards in the U.S. require a seat belt warning for the driver’s seat but not for others.

For rear seats, the proposed rule would implement a visual warning on vehicle startup lasting at least 60 seconds to notify the driver of the status of the rear seat belts and an audio-visual change-of-status warning lasting at least 30 seconds if a rear seat belt is unbuckled while the vehicle is in operation.

Up front, the proposed rule would issue an audio-visual seat belt use warning for the right front passenger’s seat, an audio-visual seat belt use warning for the driver and right front passenger seat that remains active until both the driver and right front passenger seat occupants are belted and an audio-visual change-of-status warning for both the driver and right front passenger seats that remains active until the unfastened seat belt is refastened.

NHTSA noted that almost 43,000 people died on U.S. roads in 2021 and half of them were not buckled in.

“This proposed rule can help reduce that number by getting more to buckle up,” said NHTSA acting administrator Ann Carlson.

The proposal has the backing of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“The small minority of drivers and passengers who fail to use this basic piece of safety equipment account for nearly half of crash fatalities, and our research has shown that if all vehicles had persistent reminders to buckle up, it would save about 1,500 lives a year,” said David Harkey, IIHS president.

Current regulations outline that seat belt reminders must include an audible signal that lasts for four to eight seconds total and a visual alert that lasts at least 60 seconds whenever the driver’s seat belt is unbuckled.

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