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 (NHTSA) 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 NHTSA’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.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is an agency of the Executive Branch of the United States government that functions the mission, "Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes."
NHTSA was created by the US Congress in 1970 with the Highway Safety Act of 1970, with its scope expanded by the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act in 1972. Its creation was urged by public pressure in the 1960s in the US to hike safety of cars. In 1966, Congress passed legislation to make installation of seat belts mandatory. Congress also passed Pub.L. 89–563, Pub.L. 89–564, and Pub.L. 89–670, thereby creating the US Department of Transportation. The legislation created the National Traffic Safety Agency, the National Highway Safety Agency, and the National Highway Safety Bureau – all of which are predecessor agencies of the NHTSA.