The National Highway Traffic Administration is considering the use of ignition interlocks in vehicles that would require the seatbelts of occupied seats to be fastened in order to drive the car, Automotive News reports, four decades after Congress moved to prevent manufacturers from installing them in cars sold in the US market. Following a transportation bill passed last year that lift some of the restrictions on seatbelt interlocks, automakers such as BMW are considering the benefits of using them in future cars. Now, before you go crying about your lost freedom, keep reading.

BMW said in an October 2012 petition that the use of seatbelt interlocks would allow the company to make lighter and more spacious vehicles, if the devices could be used in lieu of unbelted crash tests. The crash test has required the addition of bulky safety features, such as knee bolsters, that aren't as necessary when occupants are buckled up, especially when considering the dizzyng list of safety features that come standard on today's cars. Europe, which has a higher rate of seatbelt use than in the US, doesn't perform unbelted crash tests on cars sold there.

But NHTSA didn't give in to petitions from automakers to allow the use of interlocks. Yet. It does say that it "agrees with the theoretical premise that a seatbelt interlock system could have the potential to increase seatbelt use rates," which is "consistent with our past research." The agency also says it will study the safety potential of seatbelt interlocks through 2015, hoping to answer one of the main issues at hand: how restrictive should seatbelt interlock systems be?

Sam Campbell, head of US safety engineering at BMW, says he hopes NHTSA's study will lead to changes in US safety regualtions by 2017 or 2018, Automotive News reports. If the interlock systems pass muster, perhaps we'll see more automakers "add lightness" to their vehicles a bit more easily than before, while maintaining high safety standards.



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 133 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        imag
        • 1 Year Ago
        Now THAT is the right way to handle this. And it would preserve our ability to move the car 10 feet without fastening the seatbelt.
        leo
        • 1 Year Ago
        wish the people that are suggesting this would read your comment.... that should have been the case the day seat belts were mandated... and should apply to passengers as well
      Steve
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you are in an accident and dont\' have your seat belt, then, the insurance company should not pay for your repairs or injury. Period. Enough!
        BK
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Steve
        Exactly!!! Same goes for morons who ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Just because a state allows it, doesn't mean tht private insurers can't mandate it for coverage. Don't like it? Go to a motorcycle insurance company that specializes in morons who ride helmet-less and pay 3x as much. Though if you are stupid enough to ride without a helmet the gene pool probably gets a little deeper when you inevitably bite it ina low speed accident that would have been a bump and scrape with a helmet on!
      Michael
      • 1 Year Ago
      Having grown up with seat belts I cant imagine driving anywhere not using one. Seen too many accidents, but a big flip side for me is low speed use of my vehicle. Trailering boats. I would hate to have to buckle and unbuckle at the boat ramp of when i'm moving my car to hook up to a trailer.
      David
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't want you to infringe on my freedom to not pay for your injuries at the hospital thru my tax dollars. Make the interlock so that the vehicle cannot be put in gear without your seatbelt buckled.
      GMan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just skip the unbelted crash tests. If people don't want to put their seatbelts on, that's their problem. Why should everybody pay the price because a few people refuse to take care of themselves?
      Andrew Berardinelli
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think what we have is fine right now. "Click it or Ticket" is as far as it should go. If we start integrating systems to prevent starting a car or putting it in gear without a seatbelt, we will probably run into an issue where people in emergencies could not get in or out fast enough because of the restriction.
      brianXL
      • 1 Year Ago
      As you get more clever with ways to make things safer, people will get more clever about disabling or tricking these devices. A junkyard seatbelt clip would easily click in and fool the sensor. A resistor inline with the plug under the seat would do the same. Just like disabling the seat sensor on a riding lawnmower or the tether clip on a treadmill or Jet Ski. I think the NHTSA has the responsibility to make sure cars are safe, but if someone is stupid enough to not take advantage of the safety features willingly, then so be it.
        Sergio526
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brianXL
        Yeah, but my friend who refuses to wear his seatbelt, no matter how much I plead with him, knows nothing about cars or electrical equipment rigging. Hopefully, something like this will keep his kids from growing up parentless.
      jdeli01
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let me get this straight, the NHTA is considering ALLOWING manufacturers to add ignition interlocks on cars. Ignition interlocks are currently prohibited but manufactures are petitioning to add them. So how is this "government forcing" anyone to do anything?
      Christopher Anderson
      Why is this any different than having to put your foot on the brake or put the clutch in to start the car? Those interlocks are done in the name of safety. And they're really annoying when you are working on your car and want to just reach in the window and start it. I'm fine with this, but I do wonder how it would affect cars that come with multi-point race harnesses or have them installed after? I guess you could wire the buckle, but that could cause issues.
        bonehead
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Christopher Anderson
        because you dont have to put your foot on the brake to start the car. What kind of car do you drive? And because there is usually a mechanical reason for pushing the clutch in. IE you dont want to start the car while in gear. And the reason this is a bad idea is that i can no longer start the car to get it cool or start the car then buckle my kids in without buckling my seatbelt first. Its asinine really. And if this is supposed to stop morons from driving with thier seat belts it wont. They will buckle, start the car, and unbuckle. Just like i would now have to do if i started to car to cool it off.
      Justin Campanale
      • 1 Year Ago
      I absolutely don't support legislation mandating these interlock system. I instead support a system where insurance companies should have to pay for you if you weren't wearing your seatbelt. I couldn't care less if you're a dumbass who doesn't want to wear a belt, but I'm not going to be paying for you if you don't have the basic common sense to wear a belt.
      chromal
      • 1 Year Ago
      While I think people who don't wear their seatbelts are idiots who deserve what they get, I am as opposed to this in principle as I was to the auto-shoulder-belt (that I swear wanted to kill me) on my first car, a '93 Ford Festiva. People who don't want to fasten their seatbelts will always find a way. There's no need to make life harder for those of us who already do. I don't want my car's engine cutting out because I unbuckled to get out of my car at the mail boxes in front of the subdivision where I live. Similarly to get something out of my pocket while at a drive-thru or whatever.
      mdcwave
      • 1 Year Ago
      We had this back in the '70s and '80's and then automatic belts (shoulder belt only) came along - this was even worse! It's the occupant's fault if they're in a crash and not belted - insurance should not be pay out in these cases.
    • Load More Comments