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Next Up From Ford: Inflatable Seat Belts

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On: Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 2:16PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Next Up From Ford: Inflatable Seat Belts

First came the seat belt. Then came the driver’s airbag. Then the front seat passenger’s airbag, and next side-curtain airbags followed by rear seat airbags. Just when you think there could be no more airbags, comes the next level of crash safety protection from Ford: the inflatable seat belt. The safety engineers at Ford have introduced these new seat belts for rear seat passengers. The goal is to provide even more protection to help decrease the incidents of head, neck, and chest injuries, particularly for children. The first Ford to feature the new system will be the 2011 Explorer.

Over at Ford, it is the Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering Department that responsible for the added features. Vice president of this department, Sue Cischke, goes into details about the new feature. “Ford’s rear inflatable seat belt technology will enhance safety for rear seat passengers of all ages, especially for young children who are more vulnerable in crashes,” she said. “This is another unique family technology that builds on our safety leadership, including the most top safety ratings of any automaker.”

Hopefully, you will never find yourself in a situation to need an airbag to be deployed. However, if you should, know that this inflatable seat belt will activate in 40 milliseconds of a crash. Can you say blink of an eye? When the airbags in these belts aren’t deployed, they will function just as a typical rear passenger seat belt would. As a matter of fact, some folks who got the chance to test the new design found the seat belts were actually more comfortable, thanks to the extra padding. That increased comfort is projected to increase rear passenger seat belt usage from 61% to 81%.

“Ford is pioneering inflatable seat belt technology to help enhance crash safety protection, while encouraging more people to buckle up with a more comfortable belt,” said Paul Mascarenas, vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering and chief technical officer.

There is also a new cold compressed gas used instead of the traditional heat-generating chemical reaction of an airbag deployment. This means when the airbag opens, it will feel no warmer than your own body.


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