GM Introduces Feature That Forces Teen Drivers To Buckle Up

May 21, 2019 - 9:00 am

DETROIT (WWJ) - General Motors is giving a little bit of peace of mind to parents of young drivers.

The automaker is introducing a new feature in its vehicles that virtually guarantees a teenager will buckle up before hitting the road.

When the industry-first Buckle to Drive feature is active, it can prevent the driver from shifting the vehicle out of park if the driver's seat belt is not buckled. On pressing the brake pedal, the driver will hear an audible alert and see a message in the driver information center that reads "Buckle seat belt to shift."

The feature is available only when the vehicle is in Teen Driver mode. It will first be available on the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse and Malibu, available summer of 2019. 

Seat belt use is lowest among teen drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the majority of teenagers involved in fatal crashes are unbuckled.

"Front seat belt usage is at around 90 percent. Teens self report using their seat belts all the time only 59 percent of the time," Tricia Morrow, Chevrolet Safety Engineer, told WWJ Auto Beat Reporter Jeff Gilbert.

The Buckle to Drive system has been shown to increase seat belt use by 16 percent compared to standard audible chime seat belt reminders, according to research conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.