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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

An Industry 1st, Ford Unveils Inflatable Seat Belts

In a press release yesterday, Ford announced the 2011 Ford Explorer will be equipped with back seat belt-mounted air bags. According to Ford, they are the first carmaker to mass produce this safety feature. The inflatable belts are designed to protect children and the elderly who are at a higher risk for head and neck injuries.

The seat belt is designed to inflate on impact within 40 milliseconds using cold compressed gas. Standard air bags use a heat-generating chemical reaction to inflate at a rapid rate, which would have been dangerous as the air bag is held tight against the occupant’s body. Instead the belt air bags inflate slowly (if you can call 40 milliseconds slow) and only reach surrounding temperatures.

Ford chose the Explore due to its popularity with families, but aims to include the feature in additional models in the future. This advancement is likely to increase Ford’s hold on industry safety ratings. Currently the automaker has more 5-star U.S government and IIHS safety ratings than any other competitor.