Threatening ad campaigns and steep fines aren’t enough to keep drivers belted to their seats.
At least not enough to satisfy federal regulators, who are considering mandating ignition interlocks to force seat belt use. The issue last came up about 40 years ago and was shot down with such distain that it was made illegal for the interlocks to be required. But Congress passed a transportation bill last year that lift some of the old restrictions.
The issue is rising again because automakers are asking the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to allow ignition interlocks in lieu of unbelted crash tests. By being allowed to skip the tests, some automakers say they will be able to strip weight from their vehicles, reducing emissions. The equipment would prevent a vehicle from starting if an occupied seat’s belt is unbuckled.
NHTSA has said that it sees potential safety benefits in interlocks, but that it isn’t ready to give them the OK. BMW petitioned NHTSA to be allowed to use interlocks rather than subjecting its vehicles to the test. While a decision isn’t likely soon, the company says it is hoping for federal standards to be revised in 2017 0r 2018.
[Source: Automotive News]