Seat belts are an effective way of reducing the number or road deaths and severe road injuries in crashes. Seat belt reminders warn car drivers and passengers if the seat belt is not fastened. This can be done by a visual signal or an acoustic signal or by a combination of the two. Seat belt reminders are becoming more and more intelligent. Not only are they capable of ascertaining whether or not a seat is occupied, they now also take the driving speed and the distance travelled into account. The systems with a persistent and penetrating sound are most effective. On European level large safety gains could be achieved if all car occupants in all the Member States were to use a seat belt consistently. The EU has made it compulsory to install a seat belt reminder for the driver seat of passenger cars.
Why car equiped with Seat belt reminders?
Seat belts are the most effective and fundamental part of the safety equipment in every vehicle.Manufacturers continuously develop new and better seat belts that have a higher level of protection. A European Guideline1 has made seat belt use mandatory. In most Member States the large majority of car occupants wear seat belts. The annual data of the Ministry of Transport indicates that in 2010 97% of front-seat occupants and 82% of the rear-seat passengers wear a seat belt. All the same, some people continue to drive without wearing their seat belt. This group is overrepresented in the statistics of serious or fatal injuries. Many of those who are not accustomed to wearing their seat belt would do so
if a signal were to remind them. Research indicates that car occupants of vehicles that are equipped with a seat belt reminder (SBR) more often wear their seat belt than occupants of vehicles without such a signal. A seat belt reminder gives a warning signal if car occupants do not wear a seat belt when the car is in motion.
How do seat belt reminders generally work?
Initially only the driver seat was equipped with a seat belt reminder, then the passenger seat followed, and now there are vehicles that have seat belt reminders for all seats.
The reminder or warning system can consist of a visual signal (a blinking icon or text display) or an acoustic signal of varying pitch. A combination of both signal types is often used for the front seat belts, whereas only a visual signal is generally given for the rear seat belts. The warning signal switches off when the seat belt clip is fastened or the belt has been rolled off a specific length.
In the US, visual and acoustic warning systems are used that warn for more than 8 seconds. This type of system is called an Enhanced Seat Belt Reminder (ESBR; Farmer & Wells, 2009).
There are also systems that check whether a seat in the car is occupied and only give a warning signal if this is indeed the case. This requires an extra sensor for the passenger seats to determine whether there is a passenger in the seat. Furthermore, the more intelligent seat belt reminders only warn when it is relevant given the use of the vehicle, e.g. when a certain driving speed or distance is exceeded. This is done to avoid unnecessary hinder from the seat belt reminder when wearing a seat belt is less urgent, for example, when making a parking manoeuvre.
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