In a recent test, the Sienna is the only minivan to make the cut for having adequate seatbelt reminders.
Only the Toyota Sienna's seatbelt reminder system is considered good enough in the minivan segment, according to the latest test results from the IIHS, beating out Honda, Kia, and Chrysler to the top spot.
The IIHS launched a new rating program in 2022 to encourage automakers to enhance car seatbelt reminder systems based on research that shows these reminders are effective in getting people to buckle up. Automakers like Subaru have proven attentive to reminding drivers to buckle up in similar tests for SUVs. Minivans are focused on passengers, so the importance of safety systems like these can't be overstated - and yet, only one of the four minivans tested scored adequately. Historically, seatbelt reminders haven't featured in arriving at overall safety ratings, despite research that proves their importance.
The test protocol from the IIHS rates seatbelt reminders on the volume, duration, and timing of audible alerts and other warnings that encourage passengers to buckle up. Systems that detect unbelted passengers when the vehicle is moving, and respond with both an audible and visual signal alerting at a volume loud enough to be heard over background noise, get a Good rating.
Other requirements are that the system should alert for at least 30 seconds when passengers undo their seatbelts in the front or second row while on the move - a common occurrence with children or teens in the back seats.
Considering they are designed to ferry your most precious cargo, safety standards in modern minivans are higher than in the past. But despite standard crash test ratings being acceptable or even excellent, the IIHS has found that not all cars have an effective seatbelt reminder system. And, in the minivan segment, it's only the Toyota Sienna that made the grade.
The IIHS report shows that the 2023 Toyota Sienna is the only minivan in the USA to earn a Good rating. This is based on the Sienna meeting all the requirements and the fact that it comes with a second-row seatbelt reminder, while competitors don't. The Kia Carnival managed Acceptable ratings, while the Chrysler Pacifica's score was just Marginal.
The test found that the Pacifica's front-seat reminder didn't meet the requirements for the warning tone being loud enough, nor did the alert for the front seats start within two seconds of reaching 25 mph. The Honda Odyssey was rated Poor, considering the front-row seatbelt reminder only lasted eight seconds, despite a history of high safety ratings.
It's worth noting that despite this, the Kia Carnival and Honda Odyssey's other crash test scores from the IIHS are excellent, and both earned Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards for 2022, respectively. So while this latest test information shouldn't be used in isolation to base purchasing decisions on, it's a step toward drawing attention to inherent safety standards for automakers, and responsible car usage for consumers. A seatbelt reminder for all available seats is an ideal that should see more people strapped in, translating to fewer injuries and fatalities resulting from accidents, which all manufacturers should aim for.
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