With all the new car safety bells and whistles, it’s easy to overlook the more traditional features. The good old-fashioned seat belt is still one of the most revolutionary safety devices. And in crash tests and real-life car accidents, a well-designed, well-worn seat belt saves lives.
Support seat belts are seat belt reminders. These are great tools to help vehicle occupants remember to protect themselves. Because seat belt reminders can save lives, they are a top testing priority for the IIHS. Some seat belt reminder systems are far superior to others. And in this latest assessment, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says 12 SUVs failed in this crucial automotive safety category.
Seat belt reminders are safety essentials
According to IIHS, seat belt reminders are as important and effective as seat belts. These warning sounds after you start driving without wearing your seat belt are designed to annoy you. So even occupants who don’t prioritize the safety of the car by using the seat belts will feel compelled to buckle up to stop the incessant reminder.
It’s simple: seat belts reduce the risk of death among front-seat occupants in accidents by 45%. Around 90% of drivers and passengers use seat belts. But of the reported front-seat crash fatalities, nearly half failed to fasten their seat belts properly.
Reminders continue to be important safety features for cars, as additional studies have proven that these systems prompt occupants to fasten their seat belts. But the most successful seat belt reminders involve both shift lockouts and audible reminders.
The IIHS looks for these key indicators when reviewing the effectiveness of a vehicle’s seat belt reminder.
The 12 SUVs That Failed IIHS Seatbelt Recall Tests
The IIHS recently announced its findings after conducting assessments on seat belt recalls. And a dozen SUVs are struggling to pass.
the IIHS says its new ratings program intends to push manufacturers to improve seatbelt reminder systems, which could save up to 1,500 lives a year.
For its testing, the IIHS relies on federal standards for seat belt reminders to include an audible tone that lasts four to eight seconds. Additionally, a visual sensor alert should last for a full minute. Vehicles with more visible and consistent warning systems are ideal.
Other evaluation criteria include these reminders with audible and visual alerts in the dashboard and center console displays. The most capable systems continue to alert occupants up to 10 km/h and detect an unrestrained first-row passenger and unrestrained second-row occupants.
A dozen 2022 SUV models scored “poor” in IIHS seatbelt recall tests. The Honda HR-V, Audi Q3, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Equinox and Traverse failed. The Ford Escape and Explorer, Honda CR-V and Pilot, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Volkswagen Atlas and Volvo XC40 also underperformed.
Models with “marginal” or “acceptable” ratings
SUVs that didn’t fail but received only “marginal” seat belt recall ratings are the Jeep Compass, Renegade, and Wrangler. The Mazda CX-5 and CX-9 also scored poorly, as did the Toyota RAV4 and Highlander.
The Hyundai Tucson and Palisade are slightly better in seat belt reminder ratings with “acceptable” ratings. Three Nissan models also fell into this category, with the Murano, Pathfinder and Rogue all earning “acceptable” scores.
So, before buying a 2022 SUV, test the car’s safety equipment and technology, including seat belt reminder systems. And keep the patterns above in mind.
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