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Seatbelt ignition interlocks haven't been used since the 70s

Seatbelts have been mandatory in the United States for decades, but many drivers and passengers still refused to wear them. Federal regulators are currently conducting more research on whether or not they will allow automakers to install seatbelt ignition interlocks that would allow the manufacturer to skip crash tests designed to protect unbelted motorists.

The seatbelt ignition interlock would prevent the automobile from starting unless the seatbelt was clasped. Back in 1974 the government required interlocks on nearly all 1974 year model vehicles. However, public outcry led Congress to banish the mandate.

This week the NHTSA reportedly rejected a petition from BMW that would allow the German automaker to skip certain crash testing requirements if it installed seatbelt interlocks in front seats. BMW apparently feels that it could make better use of its resources by not catering to those who refuse to buckle up. In essence, this means that if you choose not to buckle up, you’re own your own, as there won’t be any additional safety features to protect you in the event of a crash.

BMW M4 Coupe Concept

Although the NHTSA denied BMW’s petition for now, the agency said that more information was needed before it can grant such a request.
BMW maintains that having seatbelt ignition interlocks could save hundreds of lives by increasing seatbelt use. BMW also says that using these interlocks could make vehicles lighter and more spacious by allowing them to remove knee bolsters designed to protect unbelted occupants.
Lighter weight vehicles mean vehicles with not only improved fuel efficiency, but improved performance as well.

BMW outlined three different potential types of interlocks including one that would prevent the vehicle from being started without a seatbelt in place. Another would prevent the driver from shifting out of Park and a third would allow the vehicle to be driven only at low speeds without the seatbelt being buckled.
BMW concluded that the third option would be the "least annoying and most accepted type of interlock."

Source: Detroit News

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Unbuckled start
By othercents on 8/30/2013 9:40:55 AM , Rating: 3
I typically start my vehicle without the seatbelt buckled. Many times it it is because I'm just trying to warm up the car while packing the groceries into the back, or I'm still strapping in a child while trying to get the AC rolling. There are times that I will move the car out of the garage and turn it back off, so the third option is optimal, but I'm certain that the second option wouldn't be an issue.

Obviously I'm a seatbelt user, but I'm certain that people who don't use seatbelts will be outraged that the Government is taking away their choice. I like the benefits of a lighter vehicle due to the seatbelt interlock which in turn should reduce cost of owning a vehicle (which they add back on by requiring a backup camera).


RE: Unbuckled start
By DanNeely on 8/30/2013 10:03:16 AM , Rating: 2
With remote starters common, I assume that although they're calling it an ignition lock it would function as a gearshift lock and hold you in park until you buckle.

RE: Unbuckled start
By Samus on 8/30/2013 12:20:35 PM , Rating: 3

Ignition lockout=stupid
Gear lockout=plausible

RE: Unbuckled start
By jeepga on 8/30/2013 10:06:15 AM , Rating: 2
When I read the headline my immediate thought was "not more nanny legislation". But, I was pleased to find out that it was about a private company asking to not have to do government testing if they implemented the technology.

I'm all for private companies making that choice. You can then choose to purchase or not purchase their cars. Either way the company shouldn't have to do safety tests to cater to people breaking the law (even though it shouldn't be a law).

RE: Unbuckled start
By lagomorpha on 8/30/13, Rating: -1
RE: Unbuckled start
By DanNeely on 8/30/2013 10:41:12 AM , Rating: 5
Airbags are designed to work with seatbelts; not as a substitute for them. Anyone who thinks that airbags mean they can safely unbuckle is asking to get badly messed up in an accident.

PS If you're really determined to disable them now, I think you can just pull a few fuses. Don't be surprised if following a serious accident your insurance company does something nasty if they discover you did it though.

RE: Unbuckled start
By othercents on 8/30/2013 10:57:08 AM , Rating: 2
That's a good point. How much more would insurance be without Federal level vehicle standards and testing requirements for vehicles?

Now the standards might need to be based on choice (IE. every vehicle should have a non-airbag and airbag version), so that the buyer can choose and the insurance company can insure based on the safety level you choose.

RE: Unbuckled start
By Philippine Mango on 8/30/2013 1:07:32 PM , Rating: 2
Airbags were suppose to be mandated in 1984 for passenger vehicles because there were so many unbelted fatalities. Since Reagan was president during that time, he postponed that rule and then as a concession in the late 80s early 90s, car makers could choose to outfit their vehicles either with an Airbag or with automatic seatbelts. But because we had a liberal president from '93 onward (clinton) the democrats got what they wanted and so they mandated airbags anyway with no exemptions.

I'm annoyed at the revisionist history proponents of airbags keep touting. They like to point out that airbags are a safety feature that need seatbelts when in fact their entire design philosophy was based upon the idea of an unbelted passenger. Because the airbags were so powerful, the NHTSA and the automakers developed the standard for the advanced airbag where the force of the airbag would be calibrated depending on the weight of the passenger and if the passenger is unbelted, it would work at the full force of the original airbag standard.

Airbags have always been there primarily for the unbelted passengers. In Australia, they still sell cars to this day that don't have airbags because they're not required.

It's true airbags may help in a car crash by reducing injuries to the head. However, bendable, padded steering wheels and being properly belted at a safe distance is really all that is needed.

As an FYI there were 5 star crash rated vehicles made in the 1980s that did not have airbags and there were some 1 star crash rated vehicles that DID have airbags. An airbag means nothing if the kinematics of the body in the crash are wrong or if the steering wheel comes up and through the airbag, impaling the driver due to poor design. Also those crash test procedures and ratings are completely unchanged/valid all the way through the 2010 Model year. After 2010, I'm not sure what they changed but the NHTSA claims they're no longer comparable... Not really buying that but whatever.

RE: Unbuckled start
By Gondor on 8/30/2013 1:51:02 PM , Rating: 2
Everything else remaining the same, I will still opt for vehicle that has airbags (and side cushions) over one that doesn't have these. Maybe it won't do anything in 99.9% of situations but should I ever get into an accident, I wan the best odds of making it out with as few injuries as possible.

The only exception to this I can think of is the airbag disable switch (when using child seat), but this obviously doesn't apply to me sitting in front of that airbag.

FWIW, I wear seatbelt 100% of the time.

RE: Unbuckled start
By FaaR on 8/30/2013 3:26:53 PM , Rating: 1
But, I was pleased to find out that it was about a private company asking to not have to do government testing if they implemented the technology.

And how pleased will you be if BMW and/or other manufacturers gets their way, and someone crashes their car with an unbelted passenger where the switch in the seat failed to detect the passenger, and said passenger is killed in the crash due to lack of impact protection and the family then goes on to sue the car maker...?

RE: Unbuckled start
By danjw1 on 8/30/13, Rating: 0
RE: Unbuckled start
By othercents on 8/30/2013 10:49:27 AM , Rating: 2
The seat belt law in Colorado states that you can't be pulled over for not wearing the seat belt. You can only be ticketed for a seat belt violation if you were pulled over for a different violation first and was found to also not be wearing a seat belt. In most states that is the working rule even though the law says that they can pull you over just for a seatbelt violation.

RE: Unbuckled start
By othercents on 8/30/2013 11:12:00 AM , Rating: 2
I know in California, that can get you a ticket. I think most states that require seat belts to be used, require that your seat belt in on before your keys go into the ignition.

Actually your wrong about the California law. It specifically states:

(d) (1) A person shall not operate a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers 16 years of age or over are properly restrained by a safety belt.

(e) A person 16 years of age or over shall not be a passenger in a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person is properly restrained by a safety belt.

So that only applies to driving on the Highway.

RE: Unbuckled start
By Flunk on 8/30/2013 11:41:58 AM , Rating: 2
You're right, I typically do that too. Even if it's great weather I still prefer to let the engine warm up until the revs drop before I actually start driving so I start the car the second I get in.

I could live with option 2, I'm not sure I'd really even notice because I never drive without a seatbelt on.

RE: Unbuckled start
By JDHammer on 8/30/2013 12:24:07 PM , Rating: 2
Well, how would this work if the drivers and passengers just simply buckle their belts first to the seat then sit over the seatbelt? How will automakers get around this kinda thing? I don't think it is possible because unless they install somekind of sensor in the belt itself and a failsafe should a fuse be pulled... that would be running up the costs...

RE: Unbuckled start
By DT_Reader on 8/30/2013 1:09:38 PM , Rating: 2
That's exactly what people did in the '70s. They left the belts buckled and just sat on them. Some cars had sensors that the belts had to be pulled out, as they would be if they were wrapped around you instead of tucked under you - so people pulled them out, tied them in a knot to keep them out, buckled them up, and sat on them.

RE: Unbuckled start
By Jeffk464 on 8/30/2013 12:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
I have changed a ton of side air bags in Nissans because of faulty codes. This costs Nissan a bunch of money, but guess what happens when these faulty codes lock out your ignition.

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