General Motors will introduce this year a new belt assurance system that won’t enable a vehicle to shift out of park until its seatbelts are buckled up. According to GM spokeswoman Jennifer Ecclestone, the new belt assurance system will be available as a free option in a number of 2015 models like the GMC Sierra and the Chevrolet Cruze, Colorado and Silverado.
She remarked the GM would want customers who opted for the system to provide feedback to help improve the technology before it becomes standard. Ignition interlocks, which were discontinued in the 1970s but saw their revival last year, won’t allow a vehicle to start unless the seat belts are already fastened.
Carmakers have asked the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow the usage of ignition interlocks in their vehicles, but their request was shot down in 2013.
NHTSA, however, remarked that it would study the system through 2015 to determine whether it is really effective in saving lives. Ecclestone noted that GM’s new belt assurance system doesn’t employ an interlock ignition.
Instead, GM’s new belt assurance system employs the sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) used to detect passenger weights and turn airbags on and off. For seat belts, the sensing and diagnostic module was configured to detect front seat passengers, communicating with the brakes and transmission to prevent a gear shift before both front passengers are buckled up.
GM has also tapped its own OnStar system to urge people to buckle up. When drivers press the OnStar button for non-emergency requests, the system will remind them to “stay buckled up” during NHSTA’s Click it or Ticket campaign that runs until June 1.
Jeff Boyer, vice president of GM global vehicle safety said in a statement that it is essential for safety that people develop the habit of fastening their seat belts every time they use their vehicles.