A new regulation to go into force in Japan in September will require automakers to equip new cars with a device to remind drivers to wear their seat belts, the transport ministry said on Thursday.

According to Kyodo News, the mandatory warning system, the first of its kind in the world, is designed to beep for at least 30 seconds after a vehicle has travelled 500 metres or reaches a speed of 25 kilometres per hour while the driver's seat belt is unfastened.

The regulation, applied to new cars sold in September or later, is intended to improve seat belt compliance in the hopes of reducing traffic accident deaths. Automakers are now required to install a device to light a red lamp on the dashboard when a driver's seat belt is unfastened.

Of the 7,400 people killed in traffic accidents last year, about 1,200 were not wearing their seat belts while driving, the report said, noting that the government has set a target of reducing the number of annual traffic deaths to 5,000 in 10 years.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, which sets international vehicle standards, is discussing a similar regulation for adoption by its multilateral agreement. The commission is expected to introduce the measure in one to two years, Kyodo News said.