As Ford Authority previously reported, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently revised its seat belt reminder test, tightening its standards in an attempt to increase seat belt use among drivers. As a result, the vast majority of new vehicles tested by the IIHS recently have failed this tougher test, including the 2022 Ford Escape back in March, the 2022 Ford Explorer in April, and the 2022 Ford Maverick in the most recent batch of vehicles. That list also includes the 2022 Ford Ranger, which like the Maverick, earned a “poor” rating in the most recent round of seat belt reminder tests.
It is worth noting that only one pickup out of the 10 subjected to this most recent test managed to earn a “good” rating – the Toyota Tundra – while five in total were assigned a “poor” rating. Regardless, this test has become increasingly important in recent years as a whopping one-third of pickup occupant deaths in 2020 happened in rollover crashes, which is precisely where seat belts play an important role in keeping occupants inside a vehicle.
To earn a good rating in the revised IIHS standards, a vehicle’s seat belt reminder system must generate an audible signal and visual alert on the dashboard display, overhead panel, or center console when the vehicle is moving at least six miles-per-hour and the system detects an unbelted occupant in the driver or passenger seat, or the unfastening of a second-row belt that was previously buckled. That audible alert must also be loud enough to be heard over background noise inside the vehicle and last at least 90 seconds. A visual indicator must show second-row belt use when the driver starts the vehicle, and an audible and visual reminder lasting at least 30 seconds is required when a fastened second-row belt is unbuckled.
In that regard, the 2022 Ford Ranger earned its poor rating by failing to initiative an unbelted occupant alert, startup status alert, and belt disengaged alert quickly enough, and those warning sounds weren’t loud enough nor did they last long enough by IIHS standards. According to the IIHS, seat belt reminder alerts could increase seatbelt use by at least 34 percent and save around 1,500 lives annually when these standards are met. “National belt use observations show that people driving or riding in pickups are less likely to buckle up than occupants of other vehicles, so effective reminders are especially important for these vehicles,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “This is a solvable problem.”