RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Inadequate seat belt alerts are a problem in nine out of 10 pickup trucks recently tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The organization said it is trying to get automakers to improve the warnings to force more people to buckle up.
When you’re out driving it doesn’t take long to encounter somebody in another vehicle who is not wearing their seat belt. When it comes to pickup truck drivers, figures show they tend to be the worst offenders for not wearing belts.
“Only about 86 percent of those in the front seat of pickups are wearing belts,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “That compares to 92 percent when you look at those driving SUVs, cars, or Minivans.”
The IIHS said unbelted occupants account for 56 percent of fatalities in pickups.
Harkey said the best way to get drivers to put on seat belts is to annoy them with some kind of constant alert.
“That is the goal of our seat belt reminder ratings,” he said.
The institute wants a 90-second audible reminder loud enough to overcome the ambient noise in the passenger compartment like one currently provided in the Toyota Tundra Crew Cab.
“Currently NHTSA only requires an audible signal that lasts from 4 to 8 seconds,” said Harkey. “That’s not nearly long enough or annoying enough to get a driver to buckle up.”
Of the 10 crew cab pickups it tested, only the Toyota Tundra Crew Cab earned a good rating for both front and rear seat warnings.
Four others had problems with either being able to hear the warning or the length of the alert and five crew cab models made by Chevy and Ford failed the IIHS warning standard of 90 seconds.
The institute said the fix is easy.
“We’re confident they can make the changes,” said Harkey. “In most cases, it’s a software change.”
It turns out, longer warning tones are already included in pickups sold to European markets because it’s required by law there.