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'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."