In 2014, GM announced a feature called “Belt Assurance,” which would prevent a vehicle from being shifted out of park until the driver and front passenger had buckled their seatbelts. Initially launched on certain fleet vehicles in 2014, the feature rolled out as a free option on the 2015 GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Colorado, Cruze and Silverado. At the time, GM said it would push Belt Assurance to more models if customers took to it. That appears to have happened; come 2019, GM repackaged Belt Assurance as Buckle to Drive, part of the automaker’s Teen Driver System that bundled tech such as geofencing and speed limit warnings to help parents keep track of their children’s driving habits. In that implementation, the system only works when Teen Driver Mode is activated, locking out the shifter and muting the radio for 20 seconds or until the seatbelts are buckled, whichever comes first. The system shows a visual warning in the gauge cluster, too.
For this model year, the Teen Driver System came standard on 10 Chevy models, but Buckle to Drive was only allotted to the Colorado, Malibu and Traverse. Later this year, the 2021 Camaro will join the Chevys outfitted with the Teen Driver System and will get Buckle to Drive in addition. GM Authority reports that for the 2021 model year, Buckle to Drive will also be picked up by the Cadillac CT4 and CT5. Previously, the Cadillac ATS, CTS, Escalade and XTS came with the Teen Driver System, but three out of those four vehicles are no more, and the 2021 Escalade makes no mention of the Teen Driver System nor Buckle to Drive among its safety features. Elsewhere around the GM empire, the Buick Envision and Encore GX include the Teen Driver System, as do six GMC vehicles, but it’s not clear when any will be upgraded with Buckle to Drive.
The tech could help save numerous teenagers’ lives. On its page of teen crash facts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes that roughly 300,000 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 ended up in emergency rooms to treat crash injuries in 2017. Furthermore, “only 58.8% of high school students always wore seat belts when riding as passengers,” and, “Among young drivers aged 15-20 who died in car crashes in 2017, almost half were unrestrained at the time of the crash (when restraint use was known).”