Passive safety technology takes a new turn under the direction of Ford Motor Co., who has just introduced its innovative “inflatable seat belts”. The flotation devices are set to appear for the first time in the 2011 Ford Explorer.
Intended to mesh the seatbelt and the airbag, the inflatable seatbelt is indeed a smart safety suggestion. The airbag within the seat belt is discreet, and when deployed it breaks the belt open and inflates-expanding across the chest of the passenger to protect them from impact and injury. According to Srini Sundararajan, safety technical leader for Ford research and advanced engineering,
“It’s a very simple and logical system, but it required extensive trial and error and testing over several years to prove out the technology and ensure precise reliable performance in a crash situation.”
It would seem that the belt is superior to traditional belts, which have sometimes actually injured a passenger because the strap is so small that the impact of an accident is concentrated on a small area where the seat belt pins the person to the seat. With the inflatable seat belt, a larger and more cushioned support is holding the passenger in place, alleviating the issue of concentrated impact.
It seems that cars, exotic rental cars, and a variety of other vehicles are making improvements in not only the green spectrum, but also in safety standards. It will be interesting to see who sues Ford Motor Co. first for “faulty inflatable seatbelts”…ah the American way.
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