Warning System to Alert Bus Drivers if Students Unbuckle Seatbelts

Stock photo by David George.
Stock photo by David George.

InterMotive Vehicle Controls announced it has developed an exclusive new seatbelt warning system for Freedman Seating to install in buses.

The announcement of the new Safe-T-Seat seat information tracking system on Tuesday came a month after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) and published it on Sept. 27 in the Federal Register.

Amending Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 208 would require warning systems to alert drivers of vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds that their rear passengers—potentially even those riding in school buses—are not wearing their seatbelts.

NHTSA said it wants to hear from stakeholders by Nov. 26 on many issues related to a potential requirement for a rear seatbelt warning system. NHTSA said it wants to hear if school buses should be exempted or not from the school bus industry.

Currently, FMVSS 208 only requires the driver seat position to be equipped with a warning system if the seatbelt is unbuckled. But NHTSA said most automakers also install the warning system for the front passenger seating position. However, few manufacturers extend the technology to rear passengers.

InterMotive said in a press release that the Safe-T-Seat responds to that proposed amendment by adding the seatbelt use warning systems specifically in buses. The company, which is based in Auburn, California, said its new system for Freedman displays and tracks the occupancy and belt status of passenger seats, then provides audible and visual warnings for the driver.

The Safe-T-Seat will be available for purchase during the first quarter of 2020. The product represents a potential “long-desired solution to the seat belt challenge,” said InterMotive President Greg Schafer.

“Drivers need a way to ensure passengers are really wearing their seat belts,” he explained.

Safe-T-Seat will trigger an alert if a passenger sits down on the seat but does not buckle-up, or buckles before sitting. The system can also record and store data in case of an accident, company officials noted.

According to the manufacturer, each seat-sensing module communicates wirelessly for up to three seating positions. It allows for an expandable system with up to 90 seats for larger vehicles.

In addition, an alternate battery power option allows the system to be easily retrofitted on older vehicles. Installation is simple, Intermotive said, since the system features plug-and-play electronic connections. A downloadable app lets users custom-configure the seating layout on the tablet.

“Safety is our number one priority, said Craig Freedman, CEO of Freedman Seating Company, which is based in Chicago. “We’re excited to be able to offer our complete occupant protection system (COPS) with our partner, InterMotive.”


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