This past March, the IIHS launched a new ratings program that is designed to encourage manufacturers to improve seat belt reminder systems. In recent tests evaluating 10 popular pickup models, the Chevy Silverado 1500 was among the majority of test vehicles that received a Poor rating. A total of 10 pickups were tested, with the Toyota Tundra being the only model to receive the top “Good” rating, while the Chevy Silverado was among the five models tested to receive a “Poor” rating.
According to IIHS President David Harkey, who cites “national belt use observations,” passengers and drivers in pickup trucks are less likely to use a seatbelt than occupants in other vehicles, and as such, seat belt reminder systems are considered particularly important in pickups. Seatbelts are also critical in rollover crashes, as they mitigate the risk of ejection. The IIHS states that nearly a third of pickup occupant deaths in 2020 occurred in rollover crashes.
The federal standards for seat belt reminders include an audible alert that must last between four and eight seconds, as well as a visual alert that lasts at least 60 seconds if the driver’s seat belt is unbuckled when the engine is started. However, IIHS research indicates that “more noticeable and persistent” alerts may increase belt usage by upwards of 34 percent and could prevent an estimated 1,500 deaths per year.
In order to receive a “Good” rating in the new IIHS evaluation, a seat belt reminder system is required to produce an auditory alert, as well as a visual alert on the dash, overhead panel, or center console when the vehicle is in motion (at least 6 mph) and the system detects an unbelted occupant in the driver or passenger seat, or when a second-row belt has been unfastened. The auditory alert must also be loud enough to be heard over cabin background noise and last at least 90 seconds. Meanwhile, a visual indicator must show second-row belt usage at vehicle start, while an auditory and visual alert must last at least 30 seconds when a second-row belt is unfastened.
According to the IIHS test, the Chevy Silverado does not offer a second-row seat belt reminder, and does not meet the IIHS test requirements. It’s likely this evaluation also applies to the Chevy Silverado’s corporate cousin, the GMC Sierra, although the IIHS did not test the Sierra in this particular evaluation.