Seat belts save lives – that’s not debatable at this point. But what if the driver and passengers weren’t wearing them during an accident? That’s the mistake the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) aims to correct with its first seat belt recall assessments.
And it turns out that only two SUVs/Crossovers in the US have earned the agency’s “Good” rating, both from the same automaker.
Of all 26 SUVs tested, only the 2022 Subaru Ascent and 2021-22 Forester earned “Good” ratings from the new IIHS program.
Meanwhile, the 2022 Hyundai Palisade and Tucson, as well as the 2021-22 Nissan Murano, 2022 Pathfinder and 2021-22 Rogue, all get “Acceptable” ratings. The rest of the vehicles tested earned both “Marginal” and “Poor” ratings from the IIHS.
Notably, all of the vehicles rated met the IIHS criteria for audible alarm pitch or audio frequency, although a number of other concerns detracted from their overall ratings.
To get a good rating, the alarm sound must be loud enough to be heard above the background noise in the car’s cabin, among other requirements. The visual and audible reminders must persist for at least 90 seconds if the seat belt of an occupied front row seat remains unbuckled. Recalls must last at least 30 seconds if a previously buckled second row seat belt is unbuckled. For the second row, a visual signal that appears when the driver starts the car is also required.
Vehicles that meet all of the first row requirements but do not meet one or more of the second row requirements receive an Acceptable rating. Vehicles that do not meet one or all of the front row requirements but have an audible alert for the driver and front passenger that lasts eight seconds or more receive a marginal rating. Vehicles with recalls of less than eight seconds receive a low rating, whether or not they match any of the other criteria.
“Most of these issues don’t require new hardware,” says Sean O’Malley, the IIHS’s senior testing coordinator, who conducted the assessments. “Even among vehicles that get mediocre ratings, it’s possible that simply extending the duration of the warning sound might do the trick.”