Federal Regulators Consider Seat Belt Ignition Interlocks on Automobiles
August 30, 2013 8:32 AM
comment(s) - last by
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."
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RE: Unbuckled start
8/30/2013 1:07:32 PM
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
8/30/2013 1:51:02 PM
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.
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