Earlier this week, in support of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Click it or Ticket” public safety campaign, General Motors announced plans to launch a new seat belt assurance system coming as an optional feature in select 2015 models. The system requires the driver and front passenger to buckle up before releasing the shift interlock.
Seat belt use reached 87 percent nationwide according to a report from the NHTSA. The report notes that seat belt use has been steadily increasing across the county since 1995, especially in “primary law states” where a driver can be pulled over solely for not using seat belts. Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young adults (18-24) are the least likely to wear seat belts, and have the highest crash-related injury rates of all adults.
GM spokeswoman Jennifer Ecclestone said the system will be offered for free as an optional feature in select 2015 models including the GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Cruze, Colorado and Silverado. The company is looking to gather feedback from buyers who opt out of the system to improve the technology before making the feature standard in all models.
Differing from an ignition interlock, which prevents the car from starting before seatbelts are fastened, GM’s new seat belt assurance system uses the same sensors used to detect passenger weight and activate airbags. If the vehicle detects two passengers, it will expect to have two seat belts buckled in before releasing the brake and gearbox.
It’s unclear if these new safety features will have an immediate impact on seat belt use or injury rates. GM did not provide speculation as to a timeline for standard inclusion of the system.
Read more about the announcement on GM.com.