Pickups are falling short when it comes to effective seat belt reminders, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Out of ten recently evaluated by the organisation only one — the Toyota Tundra crew cab — earned a good rating, while five were rated poor.
“National belt use observations show that people driving or riding in pickups are less likely to buckle up than occupants of other vehicles, so effective reminders are especially important for these vehicles,” said IIHS President David Harkey.
Federal standards specify that seat belt reminders must include an audible signal that lasts for four-eight seconds total and a visual alert that lasts at least 60 seconds when the driver’s seat belt is unbuckled at ignition.
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 around 1,500 fatalities a year.
To earn a good rating from IIHS, a seat belt reminder system must generate an audible signal and visual alert on the dashboard display, overhead panel or center console when the vehicle is moving at least 6mph and the system detects an unbelted occupant in the driver or passenger seat or the unfastening of a second-row belt that was previously buckled.
Along with other specifications, the audible alert must be loud enough to be heard over the background noise in the vehicle cabin and last at least 90 seconds. A visual indicator must show second-row belt use when the driver starts the vehicle, and an audible and visual reminder lasting at least 30 seconds is required when a fastened second-row belt is unbuckled.
Of the pickups evaluated — all crew cab versions — only the Tundra met all those requirements.