The Australian Government has announced it will mandate seatbelt reminder systems for the driver's seat of all new passenger cars, passenger vans and sports utility vehicles.

 

Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, Catherine King, said the introduction of the technology into new vehicles will help combat seatbelt wearing non-compliance and see fatalities and serious injuries among vehicle occupants decline.

 

The new requirement will mandate both visual and audible reminders that operate for at least thirty seconds, to make sure that drivers put on their seatbelt. Currently, only a visual reminder is required and this only has to display for four seconds on starting up.

 

“Almost one in three Australian's fatally injured in vehicles are not wearing a seatbelt,” Ms King said. “At present around 90 per cent of new vehicles currently sold in Australia are fitted with seatbelt reminder systems. We are now mandating the technology to ensure all vehicles are fitted with it.

 

The change in regulation also updates the seatbelt standards generally, including requirements such as retractors on seatbelts in heavy vehicles. Ms King said mandating seatbelt reminder systems builds on other recent Government initiatives in mandating Electronic Stability Control for light passenger vehicles and Front Underrun Protection for heavy vehicles and is one of a raft of vehicle safety initiatives that the Government will be undertaking under the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2012.

 

The Government also led the way on safety in its vehicle fleet purchasing policy by requiring passenger cars to have 5 star ratings under the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

 

The Government will shortly be introducing a new vehicle safety standard for ISOFIX child restraint anchorages, giving greater consumer choice.

 

It will then turn its attention to Brake Assist Systems for passenger cars, to reduce the impact of collisions with pedestrians, as well as Electronic Stability Control for light commercial vehicles. Seatbelt reminder systems will be mandated for all new model passenger cars, passenger vans and sports utility vehicles on 1 July 2013, with mandating of seatbelt reminder systems for existing models of these types of vehicle to follow in 2015.

 

“Mandating seatbelt reminder systems has been strongly supported by state and territory governments, and by road user groups such as the Australian Automobile Association, in developing the National Road Safety Strategy,” Ms King said.

 

Ms King also praised the cooperative approach that the automotive industry and in particularly the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, had shown towards the new requirements and in agreeing to early implementation dates for seatbelt reminder systems.