Ford Expanding Industry Leading Inflatable Seat Restraints
Ford has recently released the automotive industry’s first inflatable rear seat restraint in the Ford Explorer. Advances in airbag inflation and seat belt construction methods have enabled Ford and its suppliers to develop inflatable seat belts that are designed to deploy over a vehicle occupant’s torso and shoulder in 40 milliseconds in the event of a crash.
The inflatable seat belts operate like their conventional counterparts and are compatible with child safety seats. According to Ford’s research, 90 percent of those who tested the new belts thought they were similar to or more comfortable than a conventional belt because of the padded, softer feel.
In a front or side crash, the inflated belt distributes crash force energy across five times more surface area of the body than a traditional belt. That gives more protection and reduces the risk of injury, while providing additional support in the head and neck areas. After deployment, the belt remains inflated for several seconds before dispersing its air through the pores of the airbag.
Ford will be offering the new belts early in 2012 as an option in the Lincoln brand and the Ford Flex. There are no numbers from the NHTSA at this time, but the concept is solid. These innovation behind these belts is one of the reasons that Ford has more IIHS Top Safety Picks than any other automaker.