Seatbelt Reminders

  • November 2, 2006

Implementing advanced safety technology in Europe’s cars

This ETSC Policy Paper on “Seat Belt Reminders – Implementing advanced safety technology in Europe’s cars” brings together evidence on how the development and introduction of seat belt reminders can contribute to saving lives in Europe. It aims to promote this innovative enforcement solution among manufacturers and policy makers, showing that it helps to maximise casualty reduction.

The Policy Paper shows that the level of seat belt use varies considerably among EU countries, despite the fact that wearing a seat belt is legally required in the EU. Only few countries show driver rates of 90% and over, and the highest rate is 97% (France). In passenger and rear seat positions the numbers are even lower. By raising wearing rates in all countries important safety gains can be achieved, taken into account that wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of being killed in a crash by up to 60%.

The majority of non-users are not in principle against using a seat belt. These people can be persuaded to buckle up by state-of-the-art seat belt reminders that send out visual and auditory signals. Up to 99% of car drivers will use their belt if reminded by such a device. Moreover, people are likely to recognise its usefulness, and user acceptance increases with the experience. The costs for the implementation of seat belt reminders are small compared to the benefits.

The accelerated take up of seat belt reminders should therefore be an EU road safety priority. In a first step, their installation should continue to be encouraged using EuroNCAP and other incentives. EuroNCAP has proven to be the prime driver for seat belt reminder market penetration. In a second step, the EU should pass legislation to ensure that all cars sold in Europe have seat belt reminders installed, not only in the front but also in the rear seat. This would bring the EU rules for type approval in line with earlier EU Directives requiring the installation and use of seat belts in all seating positions in the car.