Strong Advocates
For the Injured And For A Safer Iowa

How effective are seat belt reminders?

When people get in their cars, they often do a few things without putting much thought into them. They start the ignition, check the mirrors and pick something to listen to. Hopefully, they also put on their seat belt. 

If this last part doesn’t happen, drivers can expect to hear or see an alert reminding them to buckle up. But are these reminders actually effective?

Good, Acceptable, Marginal and Poor

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released ratings for vehicle seat belt reminders in small and mid-size SUVs. Their ratings reflect several factors, including:

  • Length of the alert
  • Presence of audible signals
  • Presence of visual alerts
  • Detection of unfastened drivers and passengers in the front and rear seats

Of the dozens of models rated, only two received the highest level of Good (Subaru Forester and Ascent). Five models received an Acceptable rating (Hyundai Palisades and Tucsons, Nissan Pathfinders, Rogues and Muranos). The remaining 19 vehicles tested received Marginal or Poor ratings, meaning most of these vehicles lack effective systems that remind parties to buckle up.

How reminders help

When vehicles have effective reminder systems, they increase the likelihood that parties in the car are safely restrained. And while these reminders can be annoying, they are most effective when people cannot ignore them. 

The best systems also can alert drivers that someone in the back seat is not wearing their seat belt, which can be especially helpful for parents with antsy or mischievous children. 

When all drivers and passengers have their seat belts on, they all have better protection in a collision. Safety belts keep people from being ejected, minimize injuries and reduce the risk of fatality in a serious car crash.

Buckle up for safety

Whether you drive a truck for a living or primarily use your car to shuttle your kids to and from school, buckling up is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself. 

While most Iowans do put on their seat belt as soon as they get in the car, hopefully, those who do not will get an alert reminding them to do so. And carmakers can increase this likelihood by installing and improving their seat belt reminder systems.