Despite efforts like the long-running “Click It or Ticket” campaign, many drivers still refuse to “click it” when they get behind the wheel — and pickup truck occupants are the worst offenders. That’s according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety evaluating the seat belt reminder systems of popular pickups. IIHS found that pickup truck occupants are less likely to be buckled compared with other vehicle types, and based on the agency’s seat belt reminder evaluation criteria, only the 2022 Toyota Tundra scores a good rating across the body style.
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According to IIHS, the danger of unbuckled driving is real: While an estimated 90% of front-seat occupants report buckling up consistently, the 10% that shun the seat belt are at a much greater risk of death in the event of a crash. Previous research has shown that seat belts reduce the risk of death in front-seat occupants by 45%, and nearly half of those killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt. Additionally, approximately one-third of pickup occupant deaths in 2020 resulted from rollover crashes, where seat belt use is critical.
As the federal campaign fails to convince 10% of occupants to buckle up, IIHS believes the more direct approach of a well-designed seat belt reminder system is the solution. According to federal standards, vehicles should have an audible signal that lasts for 4-8 seconds and a visual alert that lasts at least 60 seconds when the driver’s seat belt is unbuckled at ignition. IIHS claims that’s insufficient.