It’s summertime — and so easy to forget how cold winter can get in Cincinnati. But our car mechanics are always thinking ahead. So when they read the news that Mercedes Benz was developing heated seatbelts, they got pretty excited.
Mercedes has long been a leader in heated components in cars. It’s top models feature heated armrests and door panels in addition to the usual heated seats and steering wheel.
Safety First. Comfort Secondary.
We know what you’re thinking — do I really need a heated seatbelt? Yes, of course you do — if you’ve ever experienced winter in Cincinnati. But more importantly, you need to wear a seatbelt — which is what this latest move in technology is really about — safety more than comfort.
“But Mercedes has another, more altruistic motive than that. It wants to encourage seatbelt use, which although high in Europe is woefully low (around 85 percent, averaged between front- and rear-seat occupants) in the United States and far, far lower in China. By adding features to the belts, Benz figures, it can cajole more people into using them.”
Safety belts save lives. Most people who die in auto crashes were not wearing their seatbelt. “53% of drivers and passengers killed in car crashes in 2009 were not wearing restraints,” reports the CDC. “Seatbelts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury. Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seatbelts reduce the risk of death by 45%, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%.”
Comfort Coming to a Dealership Near You? Maybe….
So how comfortable would the new heated seatbelts be? “The belt is not perceptibly thicker than a regular belt and does indeed get warm, thanks to heated tube elements running through the belt, which operate with the same superheated gusto as most German cars’ heated seats,” Car and Driver reported.
The bad news? It’s unclear if the belts will ever reach the market as Mercedes has yet to confirm it. But there is hope. “The technology seems ready now and easy to implement, and its presence on the ESF 2019 safety concept… suggests it could be headed to a dealership near you soon.”
Hopefully by next January if our car mechanics have anything to say about it.