(WWLP) – The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed a new rule to require manufacturers to add a seat belt warning system for the rear seats of cars, trucks and some buses in order to increase seat belt use.

In the recent proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the rule also calls for a requirement of a seat belt warning for the front passenger seat and an increase to the length of the warning. This would apply to vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds.

The proposal suggests:

  • A visual warning on a vehicle startup for at least 60 seconds, notifying the driver of the status of the rear seat belts.
  • If a rear seat belt is not buckled, an audio warning would then go off for at least 30 seconds while the vehicle is driving.
  • An audio-visual warning for the right front passenger seat that remains active until the seat belt is secured, similar to how the driver seat warning is currently.

“Wearing a seat belt is one of the most effective ways to prevent injury and death in a crash,” NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said. “In 2021, almost 43,000 people lost their lives on America’s roads, and half of those in vehicles were unbelted. This proposed rule can help reduce that number by getting more to buckle up.”

Currently, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 “Occupant Crash Protection” rule requires a seat belt warning for the driver seat but does not require a warning for any other seat in the vehicle.

The NHTSA says this new proposed rule would prevent approximately 300 non-deadly injuries and more than 100 deaths annually. Seat belts reduce the risk of death in a rear seat by 55 percent for passenger cars and 74 percent for light trucks and vans.

The NHTSA will be accepting public comment on this proposed rule for 60 days. Here’s how to submit your comments.