Including the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado.
Thanks to major advances in driver assistance technology, cars have never been safer to drive, yet some are still failing very basic tests. According to a recent safety review conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), many popular trucks failed to impress in what would seem like a very fundamental test: seat belt reminders.
The IIHS launched a new rating program in March, urging manufacturers to step up their efforts when it comes to reminding passengers to buckle up, but the call to action is clearly still falling on deaf ears. Out of ten popular trucks tested, only one, the Toyota Tundra, satisfied the IIHS's criteria, with the rest failing dismally.
According to federal standards, seat belt reminders have to be audible for at least four to eight seconds, and should include a visual reminder for at least a minute when the driver's seatbelt is unbuckled with the ignition switched on. IIHS studies have found that more persistent alerts can increase safety belt engagement by a significant 34 percent, which translates to 1,500 lives saved on American roads per year.
The IIHS also found that pickup drivers aren't too fond of buckling up. "National belt use observations show that people driving or riding in pickups are less likely to buckle up than occupants of other vehicles, so effective reminders are especially important for these vehicles," says IIHS President David Harkey.
To earn a good score in the IIHS' new test, vehicles need to generate an audible signal and visual alert on the dashboard display when seat belts aren't engaged, and when the vehicle is moving at 6 mph. The IIHS also requires that the audible alert be louder than any background noise, and at least 90 seconds long. Second-row passengers must be alerted for at least 30 seconds.
The IIHS tested ten popular pickup trucks, with the Toyota Tundra being the only truck to receive a good rating. The Hyundai Santa Cruz and Nissan Frontier scored good in the front row, but only managed acceptable ratings for second-row warnings.
Surprisingly, some industry giants such as the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Colorado and Silverado, Ford Ranger and Maverick all scored poorly. Most of these cars failed to alert occupants for longer than eight seconds. The Toyota Tacoma and Ram 1500 both received marginal ratings due to shortcomings in alert duration.
No one likes it when cars beep at us, but according to Harkey, nearly a third of pickup truck deaths are caused by rollovers where passengers are ejected from their vehicles; something that is preventable by buckling up.