General Motors is doing the right thing here, and deserves a hearty round of applause for it. The company’s new “Buckle To Drive” seatbelt interlock system will prevent any vehicle from shifting out of park if the drivers is not properly belted and buckled. Buckle To Drive was introduced in 2020 as a feature of the company’s teen driver safety suite on Colorado, Traverse, Malibu, and Canyon models. The company has already expanded this tech to the Equinox and Blazer, and will be adding it to Silverado and GMC Sierra when the redesigned models launch next year.
Back in 1973 congress passed a law requiring all new vehicles sold in the U.S. to have seatbelt ignition interlocks to make American roadways safer. According to data at the time, these interlocks contributed to an almost 7-fold increase in seatbelt use. Of course, this being America, a massive letter writing campaign and calls to congressional representatives saw the law overturned for 1974. We don’t want to be told that something slightly annoying has a huge safety benefit.
We have been in favor of seatbelt interlocks here at Jalopnik for quite some time, as we want driving to be as safe as possible for everyone. As an added benefit of that, our insurance rates would likely go down a bit. Seatbelt use in the U.S. is higher than it has ever been, with the IIHS reporting 86 percent of drivers belting up. More than half of people who die in vehicle crashes, however, are not clicking it. If even a small percentage of those deaths could be prevented by seatbelt interlocks, it’s worth implementing across the board.
Kudos to General Motors for doing something that probably should have been done half a century ago. It’s a good idea that needs to be implemented across its entire product line in short order. Here’s the part where I find something shitty to say about GM, however, because the Buckle To Drive software is completely defeatable in the vehicle’s settings. I’m not going to even tell you how to disable it, however, because that’s irresponsible. Keep Buckle To Drive on, and wear your damn seatbelt.
I would argue that this is a tiny step in the right direction, as the technology exists to determine if a person is sitting in the seat, and whether their belt is buckled. This should not be limited only to the driver, the shifter should not function unless everyone in the vehicle is buckled. GM has apparently been working to implement this to all people in the front seats, but let’s take this another level. Sitting in a seat? Wear the belt. It could save your life.