Ding, ding, ding: Buckle up in the back seat

After you start your car, have you ever taken a moment before you buckle your seat belt, and a reminder to do so chimes through your dashboard? The friendly reminder may be expanded to back seat passengers as well. Safety advocates think the move would prevent serious car accident injuries.

As it is now, only 74 percent of back seat passengers buckle up, compared with 83 percent of their front seat counterparts, according to a 2009 survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Obviously, this is dangerous for the back seat passengers, but in serious accidents they can act as projectiles if they are unbuckled, putting everyone else in the car at risk.

Congress already passed a bill early last month that would require “a safety belt use warning system for designated seating positions in the rear seat.” Specific requirements are still being considered, and the NHTSA notes that it is still in the early stages of figuring things out and evaluating potential warning systems.

Some cars already have a seat belt reminder for back seat passengers, including the Chevrolet Volt and the Volvo S60. Those vehicles alert unbelted back seat passengers with dashboard indicators or warning chimes.

In a way, it’s a little shocking that this idea has taken so long to become a law. Reminders for front seat occupants have been around for over 30 years.

Only one state in the U.S. does not require front seat occupants to wear a seatbelt. Nearly half of the states don’t have a similar requirement for back seat passengers.

Source: Washington Post, “Seat belt reminders could come to back seat,” Aug. 2, 2012

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