Only two SUVs received a ‘good’ Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rating in a new seat belt reminder test.
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 IIHS 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, preventing an estimated 1,500 fatalities a year.
The IIHS has introduced the new test to push manufacturers to improve their seat belt reminders.
Among the criteria to receive a “good” rating there must be an audible signal and visual alert on the dashboard display, overhead panel or center console when the vehicle is moving at least 6 mph and the system detects an unbelted occupant in one of the front-row seating positions or the unfastening of a second-row belt that was previously buckled.
Among the 26 vehicles tested, only two Subaru models, the Ascent and Forester, received a good rating.
“By now everybody knows that seat belts save lives when they are used,” said 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.”
The results of all the SUVs tested can be read on the IIHS website.