WASHINGTON — The nation's top auto safety agency proposed a rule Monday that would require automakers to equip vehicles with seat belt warning systems for front and rear passenger seats in an effort to establish consistency and improve seat belt use.
NHTSA's proposed rule would amend a federal regulation for occupant crash protection known as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, which mandates visual and audible alerts to encourage seat belt use for the driver's seat but does not require a warning for other seating positions.
For rear seats, the proposal would require automakers to add a visual warning once a vehicle is started that lasts at least 60 seconds and an audiovisual "change of status" warning that lasts at least 30 seconds if a rear seat belt is unbuckled while the vehicle is in operation.
For front seats, the proposal would require an audiovisual seat belt use warning for both the driver and front passenger seats that remains active until the seat belts are secured. It also would require an audiovisual "change of status" warning for both the driver and front passenger seats that remains active until an unbuckled seat belt is refastened.