NHTSA to launch new study of ignition interlock systems

NHTSA to launch new study of ignition interlock systems

Back in 1974, the U.S. government required new vehicles to have ignition interlock systems, which required car occupants to fasten their seat belts before the car would start. Many people fastened the belt behind them and sat on it so they wouldnt be inconvenienced. There was such a groundswell of protest that Congress overrode the federal mandate for the interlock systems.

Now theyre back. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week rejected a petition by BMW to use the interlock systems instead of meeting some crash-test requirements, according to the Detroit News. BMW said it could then remove knee bolsters, making the cars much lighter weight and more fuel efficient.

NHTSAs objection: What if some occupants found a way around the system? It plans to research whether automakers could voluntarily use an interlock system that couldnt be defeated. Under current law, automakers may voluntarily use the systems, but only if the cars meet crash test requirements for unbelted occupants.

Last year, seat belt use was 82 percent, near its all-time high.

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