In our pursuit of a world with zero crashes, we will continue to provide foundational vehicle safety through crash performance, thoughtful reminders, technology to help mitigate crashes and other safety innovations. At GM, safety is in our DNA, and crash safety is foundational.
We continue our efforts to design technologies that can help our customers. GM introduced the industry-first Rear Seat Reminder five years ago. Today, Rear Seat Reminder is available on nearly all four-door vehicles in the United States and Canada. Additionally, the feature was made available globally on select new programs in 2021. Rear Seat Reminder is a simple alert that is intended to do exactly what it says: remind the driver to look in the rear seat before exiting the vehicle. The alert does not actually detect people or objects in the rear seat; instead, under certain conditions, it detects when a rear door is opened and closed just before or during a trip, indicating that there might be something in the rear seat. In some cases, there might be nothing at all. In other cases, there might be a gym bag, a lunch or even a child or pet.
According to NHTSA, 94% of serious crashes are caused by human error. Errors that tend to cause injuries and fatalities include lack of seat belt use along with speeding, alcohol and drug impairment, and driver distraction. Even with all the new safety technology in vehicles, seat belts remain the primary occupant restraint in the vehicle and save lives when properly worn. NHTSA estimates that front seat belt use is about 90% in the U.S., yet almost half of in-vehicle fatalities are unbelted occupants. For these reasons, seat belt use continues to be a priority at GM.
This is why we have expanded availability of the Buckle to Drive feature on select models. This feature, when turned on, reminds unbelted drivers to buckle their seat belt by sounding a chime, sending a visual message and can prevent the vehicle from being shifted into gear for 20 seconds.
Advanced driver assistance systems and automated technology are fundamental parts of our vision to achieve zero crashes. While self-driving vehicles—those requiring no input from a human driver—are being tested and used in limited capacities on public roads, advanced safety innovations available today represent first steps on the road to autonomous driving. For example, under certain conditions, Automatic Emergency Braking* can help avoid or reduce the harm caused by front-end crashes by automatically providing hard emergency braking or enhancing the driver's hard braking if the system detects a frontal collision with a vehicle they are following is imminent. Similarly, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning* provides gentle steering wheel turns to help keep the driver from inadvertently leaving their lane. Through building-block changes such as these, drivers are increasingly aided in helping to avoid or mitigate the harm caused by common crashes.
- Safety or driver assistance features are no substitute for the driver's responsibility to operate the vehicle in a safe manner. The driver should remain attentive to traffic, surroundings and road conditions at all times. Visibility, weather and road conditions may affect feature performance. Read the vehicle's owner's manual for more important feature limitations and information.