A new ratings program from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety aims to push manufacturers to improve their seat belt reminders in order to save as many as 1,500 vehicle occupants per year.
“By now everybody knows that seat belts save lives when they are used,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “Our research shows that effective seat belt reminders can also save lives by getting those who aren’t diligent about belt use to buckle up. These new ratings are designed to push manufacturers to realize that potential.”
Federal standards specify that seat belt reminders must include an audible signal that lasts for 4-8 seconds total and a visual alert that lasts at least 60 seconds whenever the driver’s seat belt is unbuckled. However, previous I I H S research has shown that more noticeable and persistent alerts could increase belt use among those who do not routinely buckle up by as much as 34 percent.
Much of the time, they simply forget. The earlier I I H S study, which involved about 50 part-time belt users who had recently received a seat belt citation, found that a persistent reminder was much more effective at getting these drivers to buckle up than a minimal reminder and just as effective as a speed-limiting interlock that kept their speed under 15 mph unless they were buckled in.
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