'Belt-Minder' to Urge Ford Customers to Buckle Up
4 January 1999'Belt-Minder' to Urge Ford Customers to Buckle Up
DETROIT, Jan. 4 -- Ford Motor Company wants to help remind customers to buckle up and today announced plans to offer a safety belt reminder feature in the full line of cars, trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles it sells in the United States. "Ford cares about its customers, and we want to make sure people remember to use the most effective safety devices in their cars and trucks -- the safety belts," said Jacques Nasser, Ford's president and chief executive officer. "That's why Ford will begin introducing our new 'Belt-Minder' system in vehicles later this year -- at no cost to customers." The Belt-Minder system will use a safety belt usage sensor located in the belt buckle to determine whether a driver is buckled up. The sensor feeds this information to a control module, and if a driver is unbelted when the vehicle is in motion, a red light in the instrument panel will illuminate and a chime will intermittently sound to remind customers to use their safety belts. In time, the system will be expanded to offer front-seat passengers the same type of reminder. "Government research shows that a majority of surveyed drivers who don't always buckle up simply forget -- and more than 40 percent said they drove unbelted when in a hurry," Nasser said. "Ford wants to make sure that people aren't compromising their safety just because their lives are hectic." About 35,000 vehicle occupants in the United States die each year in traffic accidents. Government research shows that more than 4,000 lives could be saved and thousands of injuries could be prevented annually if the safety belt usage rates climbed from 68 to 85 percent. "We can save thousands of lives this year -- without adding any new safety technology to cars and trucks or changing vehicle designs," Nasser said. "All people have to do is buckle up, and Ford has a new system to help remind customers to do just that -- and we think it's fantastic." Officials at major insurance companies also see the benefit of Ford's Belt-Minder system and are considering insurance premium discounts for those who own or lease cars and trucks equipped with features that promote safety belt use, like Belt-Minder. Those customers who don't want the reminders during a given trip can simply buckle, then unbuckle their safety belts. "We hope other manufacturers will follow suit and systems like Belt-Minder become standard in the industry," Nasser said. "The safety of our customers is important, and no other safety feature on vehicles today is more effective at reducing the risk of injuries than safety belts."