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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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By bupkus on 8/30/2013 9:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
1. clip the seat belt buckle then sit on it
2. wear seat belt until motor starts then unbuckle.*

*Assuming no kill switch which would be very hazardous.

Perhaps the threat that insurance companies would not pay medical expenses if a seat belt were not used.??
Sure, like they never thought of this.

RE: Bypasses
By DanNeely on 8/30/2013 10:06:33 AM , Rating: 3
Gene Pool meet Clorox; Clorox, Gene Pool.

Assuming there's no regulatory restriction to prevent them from doing so I'd guess the only reason the insurance companies haven't done something like that is that whoever moves first would lose a bunch of customers as the idiots bailed resulting in a major short term revenue hit.

RE: Bypasses
By bah12 on 8/30/2013 10:06:40 AM , Rating: 2
Yah I don't get how you can get around that obvious flaw. You cannot just kill the car because I took off my seatbelt. Dead in the water if you ask me. Unless, knowing the path this nation is going, it is going to lock it buckled until you put it back in park.

RE: Bypasses
By Avatar28 on 8/30/2013 10:41:05 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. What if I'm driving down the road and I have to unbuckle momentarily for whatever reason. "Oops, you unbuckled. Let me just shut off your engine and power steering and power brakes." Yeah, that would be an accident waiting to happen.

RE: Bypasses
By Motoman on 8/30/2013 12:24:47 PM , Rating: 3
I don't see any way they can justify having it at all. Any kind of switch that kills the ignition is a horribly bad idea, and should never be anywhere near a car.

Because like anything else, it can malfunction. And when it malfunctions at 70MPH in the middle lane of a 10-lane highway at rush hour, you have carmageddon and a large number of dead people.

Intentions aside, this is one of the worst ideas anyone could ever have.

RE: Bypasses
By bah12 on 8/30/2013 5:17:18 PM , Rating: 2
Which is why I'd bet they do part 2 of my senario. That is not kill the car, but simply lock the belt until the car is parked or off again. Although that seems dangerous as well.

RE: Bypasses
By Avatar28 on 8/30/2013 11:17:47 PM , Rating: 2
No, they can't do that because, again, what if it malfunctions and you can't get out of your car or you're in an accident and aren't able to shift the car into park. I don't think the lawyers would let them get away with that.

RE: Bypasses
By alpha754293 on 8/30/2013 10:43:42 AM , Rating: 1
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here are solely that of my own and are not representative of Ford Motor Company or its affiliates.

I know that some (probably in conjunction with universities) have experimented with belt tension sensors so that you can't just clip it into the seat buckle then sit on it like you suggested.

And I know that for some of the passenger seats now, they have a weight sensor in there as well, so that if a child sits in the front passenger, it will disable the airbag (because the deployment of such in the event of a crash, the force of the airbag can seriously hurt or kill a child). So, between the weight of the occupant that's actually sitting in the seat, you can generate a statistical probabilty of what the minimum tension the seat belt should be seeing; which, from there, you can set the minimum engagement standard. It's not that hard. At all.

I don't think that they're allowed to kill the automobile, but there's nothing that says say...they can't limit your vehicle's top speed and automatically throw on your 4-ways as well.

The massive integration of sensors and the generally electronic nature of vehicles nowadays makes it possible for the OEMs to do a LOT of things.

Or say for like GM vehicles equipped with OnStar, there's also nothing to say that they can't shut off your radio and have somebody coming on through the OnStar system asking you if there's a problem with the seatbelt (and pestering you enough until you put them on). (if they can detect airbag deployment, and can remotely start your car via satellite; it's really not that hard to do that either).

Course, I personally vote that if they can demonstrate (now that EDRs are required) that you weren't wearing your seatbelt in the event of an accident, you're 100% liable for all damages yourself. It voids your insurance. A $500,000 bill oughta make you think twice for a simple and "minor" inconvenience, the result of not using it maybe death.

The upside to people not using their seatbelts, if their insurance can be voided, and they die is that it removes them from the gene pool. yay!

RE: Bypasses
By invidious on 8/30/2013 11:52:55 AM , Rating: 3
So anyone who doesn't have a seatbelt on during a crash and is lucky enough to not die somehow deserves to suffer physically and financially for the rest of their life? As if anyone wears their seatbelt 100% of the time and has never taken it off for any reason even for a second. Why would you even care about who gets covered, you aren't paying their insurance premiums, at least not until ObamaCare mutates and takes over all types of insurance.

What happens when you pull up to a drive though and unbuckle to get your wallet, then the driver behind you rear ends you?

What happens when your child gets into an accident without their seatbelt dispite your direction? Now you have to chose between your child's medical care and losing your house.

What happens if your seatbelt latch breaks? Now you can't even drive it to the dealership to get it fixed without being insured and you have to get it towed.

Obviously this is the internet and nonsense opinions are common, but is it really that difficult to give even a little consideration to the implications of your thoughts before you waste your own time broadcasting them to the world and making yourself look foolish?

RE: Bypasses
By Rukkian on 8/30/2013 12:01:46 PM , Rating: 1
The problem is, we are all paying the premiums to deal with the extra injuries involved due to some not wearing their seat belt. For the cases you state, if you get rear ended in a drive through at what - 2mph, your seat belt is not going to come into play either way.

As for not being able to take it to the dealer- how often does the seat belt break? I have never had one break in any car I have ever been in, or know of anybody that it happened to.

In that one case a year, maybe a tow would be a better option?

RE: Bypasses
By M'n'M on 8/30/2013 12:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
So anyone who doesn't have a seatbelt on during a crash and is lucky enough to not die somehow deserves to suffer physically and financially for the rest of their life?

Pretty much, yes. You get the consequences of your choice. I don't see why that's some odd concept. Ideally you'd be responsible for any added costs, beyond what would have happened if you had your seatbelts on. In practice this might be a bit hard to determine so I'm open for some compromise. Perhaps you could buy a "no belts" option, where you and others pay more for insurance, and don't have to belt up.

As if anyone wears their seatbelt 100% of the time and has never taken it off for any reason even for a second.

No but the odds of getting into an accident during those few seconds or few minutes is pretty remote. If you don't like the odds then keep the seatbelts on.

Why would you even care about who gets covered, you aren't paying their insurance premiums, at least not until ObamaCare mutates and takes over all types of insurance.

Already answered above. Your extra costs inflate my never-had-an-accident insurance bill.

RE: Bypasses
By Flunk on 8/30/2013 11:39:07 AM , Rating: 2
I could see a kill switch that shut down signals from the throttle and turns on hazard lights (almost all new cars have drive by wire throttles so it would be easy) and maintains all other functions.

I mean, there really is no point in having an interlock if there is no enforcement afterwards. If people are ignorant enough to drive around without seatbelts then they're ignorant enough to purposefully circumvent measures designed to keep them safe.

I'm not too sure this will ever happen, at least not in the US. Maybe here in Canada, I almost never see anyone driving without a seatbelt on here although that might have something to do with the fact that the cops can and do pull people over for not wearing one.

RE: Bypasses
By Flunk on 8/30/2013 11:42:33 AM , Rating: 2
The whole thing is a bit heavy-handed, I'm not too sure I'd be happy with it.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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