But there's no federal requirement for seat-belt notification systems in the back seats of vehicles, where children usually ride. Consumers Union and some other safety groups want that to change.
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Consumers Union (CU), parent organization to Consumer Reports, believes that seat-belt reminder systems are most effective when equipped with continuous, repetitive auditory signals.
Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows a strong positive correlation between perceived effectiveness and annoyance. In other words, the more annoying the seat-belt reminder, the more likely drivers and passengers are to buckle up—if for no other reason than to get the dang thing to be quiet. And a sound is far more effective than a light on the dashboard.
Consumers Union wrote the following in comments to NHTSA in support of the petition: "A small visual signal on the console can be easily ignored. An audible signal alerts all occupants of the vehicle that certain passengers have not secured their belts... We believe that putting the onus on the driver to observe the visual signal and then determine how many passengers are seated in the rear of the vehicle greatly decreases the effectiveness of the seat-belt reminder system."
CU also wants NHTSA to require that any rear seat-belt reminder system notify the driver of seat belt non-use not only at the beginning of a trip, but also during the course of a trip. This feature may reduce the risk of injury to children by alerting the adult driver that the child's seat belt has become unbuckled.
"An audible signal would also be much more effective in this situation, as drivers operating a moving vehicle may not immediately notice a visual alert on the console," wrote CU. As a result, we support a rear seat-belt reminder system that incorporates both visual and audible warnings.
Think of it all as a backup system for those legendary eyes that moms have in the back of their heads.
—Bob WilliamsRelated articles:
Buckle up: Study shows child booster seat laws effective at reducing injuries
Note to Hannah Montana: Seat belts are necessary not an accessory
Readers react to Hannah Montana seat belt flap—and so does Miley's family
This is only a good idea if said indicator can tell the difference between a person and a backpack or a bag of groceries (both of which have set off my front passenger seatbelt indicator). And let's not forget suitcases, empty carseats, and who knows what else will set the thing off. Otherwise, this is about as good of an idea as those seats that automatically buckled you in.
And yes, I know Consumer Reports is going to tell me that I shouldn't have any of those things on the backseat of my car. Because obviously, if the trunk is full and the backseat of the car is empty, I need another vehicle to carry the rest of the stuff.
I agree with Tom's comments and would add my own question: What about dogs? My seatbelts in the back will be permanently fastened if this is enacted making the warning useless anyway.
In 1966, I was married and had, already started to wear my seat belt. My husband refused, saying that it "hurt his stomach". This from a high school principal! He remained adamant for the 10 years of our marriage, but accepted that our 3 children must be buckled.
It took my father an additional 20 years to click up!
After reading this, I went to the site above, about the Hannah Montana "seat belt flap". I feel that the clip is a "must see" for everyone, middle school and older.
It is graphic, but the reality is deadly!
Parents should make certain that their young drivers fully understand the consequences and ramifications that might result from driving. Thus, we have drivers' education. Don't stop there. Be sure to remind them to only join their friends when safety rules are demanded!
The lives they save by following this rule might induce others to follow their example.
Tom (previous post) is correct. You can have the thing "dinging" at you because there's something heavy in the back seat. There needs to be a way for the driver to bypass the annoyance (e.g. every time the car is turned on, you get one chance to bypass the signal?)
Otherwise, it sounds like a good idea.
Good to know of your concern and proposed actions re unrestrained children in rear seats. What about children on
school buses? Not to mention the diesel fumes they inhale as they wait to board the idling (fume spewing) buses at the end of their day.
Tom is correct about a seat belt system not differentiating between a human and a dog, but a dog should never be in a moving vehicle without an adult to control it. Objects (and dogs)can be seat belted and they should be!
It would help this recommendation, which as the previous commenter points out could reduce the utility of a vehicle, to have supporting information on rates of injury to back seat users not buckled in where front seat users were buckled in. Or to counter the previous commenter's remarks, the likelihood of increased injury when unsecured items are in the back or passenger seat. But do these kinds of stats exist? If they do, but are not significant, then the proposal loses its punch.
I agree with this requirement...because it's the ADULTS that are the hardest to get to buckle up in back. I've even had my elderly mother "pretend" to fasten her seatbelt by holding it across her lap. (Admittedly, it's hard for her to buckle, but that's a whole other issue).
An annoying signal would help take the onus off the driver to make sure backseat passengers are buckled in.
Tom makes a point that I hadn't thought of. I'd hope the sensors could be calibrated so that something as light as an empty carseat or grocery bag wouldn't set off the alarm. And if there is something that heavy in the back, perhaps it should be buckled in as well so it doesn't create a hazard to front seat passengers in the event of a crash.
I think is is about time that you, the government and the do-gooders should leave the public alone while trying to dictate all kinds of restrictions on the people. You are not helpful, all you want to do is take away our freedoms. STOP IT!
I installed seatbelts in the first car I bought in 1954, when I was 16. No one rides in my vehicles without using seat belts. However, another big brother law is not the way to increase awareness and use. Consumer Reports should continue HIGHLIGHTING THE COMPANIES that build products that are safe or enhance safety. You can clearly identify companies that build unsafe products and those that build products that do not use the best technology to aid safety. Show survival rates with different equipment. Let the market place drive -- not the government.
I totally agree with the above post, we traded our SUV's for sedans and now frequently are required to use the rear seat to carry extra soft but heavy luggage for trips. We also use the rear seat for groceries instead of the trunk...even though the main grocery story is only a half mile from my home I refuse to listen to chiming B.S. Sometime what seems like a good idea to an advocacy group, and I am a great fan of Comsumer Reports, If you push this issue you should have some way to disable the warning chime...We have no children and No plans to have children. The system should be an optional/programable feature if you persist. Such as the setting you make for rain-sensing wipers, easy-entry driver seat, outside mirrors tilting and the the delay headlights....put a sticker on the dash of the new cars (similar as the airbag tags) but don't punish the adults with unstoppable chiming,dinging and beeps...because you feel you are right to lobby for these requirements. Seriously, sometimes regulations however well intensioned just go too far!
Sorry, I cannot support this initiative. I think that Consumer Reports should stick to protecting consumers from faulty and substandard products, not protecting consumers from themselves. There comes a point at which protecting a small percentage of consumers from themselves impacts on the rest of us. There are already laws on the books to prevent cellphone usage while driving, and others that require seatbelt usage. Some ignore those laws, at their own peril. Instead of having the car "remind" us to fasten seatbelts, how about advocating for more severe penalties for those who don't use them, or for those who drive while using cellphones?
Consumer Reports obviously does not remember 1974, when cars could not be started until the driver (and passenger, I believe) were buckled in. The result was a boom in business at service stations disconnecting these devices. The same thing will happen again if an annoying sound rings the entire time while driving.
Just a note - I never drive without using a seatbelt, and all those in my car must use them as well. I am all for seatbelts. I am not for more control over our lives!
How much more noise do we need in our lives. Parents need be responsible for their children. Adults usually do what they want to do. We are forgetting to be responsible for ourselves.
Too much government regulations in our lives now. This would just be one more thing.
If you think no government involvement would come of this.... BULL