General Motors Announce New Seatbelt Interlock Technology

Seat belt interlock systems that shut the engine down and prevent motorists from driving if the motorist and front seat passenger are not buckled in, are not exactly new. However, the earlier technology never took off for a variety of reasons. Now, General Motors is giving these devices another shot. It aims to introduce a device that will be available as a free option on several models.

The Belt Assurance System will include software that relies on sensors to detect whether passengers in the front seat are wearing their seatbelts. If the system detects that a passenger is sitting in the front seat without wearing a seatbelt, the system will engage the brakes, and the transmission to prevent the car from shifting out of park.

Seat belt usage rates in the United States are at all-time highs, with rates of 87%. However, the fact that an average of 13% of the American population still drives without buckling up, is definitely a concern. Wearing a seat belt is the number one way to prevent death in the event of an accident. In 2012, as many as 12,134 lives were saved as a result of wearing seatbelts.

The earliest seatbelt interlock systems that were introduced back in the 70s failed because the public was not ready for systems that would prevent the car from starting if motorists were not wearing seat belts. However, buckling up is now a matter of habit for most Americans.  Having an interlock system that would force front seat passengers and motorists to wear seatbelts would be very beneficial for certain categories of motorists who may not be so likely to buckle up. That includes teenage motorists who have lowered usage rates.

This was written by Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Robert B. Reeves.

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