The seatbelt inflates over the shoulder and torso in a 40 milliseconds
A car maker is introducing seatbelts that inflate like airbags to give extra protection to passengers. Ford is fitting the back seats of vehicles with belts that inflate automatically during a crash.
Experts say they will be particularly effective at preventing broken ribs, internal damage and bruising in children.
Frail and elderly passengers will also benefit particularly from the cylindrical airbag that stretches from the buckle to the shoulder and fits inside a pocket sewn into the belt.
The technology will be introduced on the latest model of Ford Explorer 4×4, which goes into production in the United States next year.
On impact the belts’ air bags are filled with compressed gas that is stored below the seat
In a crash, sensors in the Explorer will calculate the severity of any impact and inflate the belts with compressed gas, stored below the seat, in 40 milliseconds – the time it takes a car to travel one yard at motorway speed.
The airbag breaks through the belt fabric and spreads the impact forces over an area five times larger than a traditional belt.
This helps to keep the passenger in the safest seating position – reducing pressure on the chest and controlling head and neck movement.
Sue Cischke, vice-president of safety engineering at Ford, said the belts would improve safety for all rear-seat passengers.
‘Ford’s rear inflatable seatbelt technology will enhance safety for rear-seat passengers of all ages, especially for young children who are more vulnerable in crashes,’ she said.
In everyday use, the inflatable belts work like conventional seatbelts and are safe to use with children’s safety and booster seats.
More than 90 per cent of people who tested the belts said they were similar to or more comfortable than traditional belts.
Clarence Ditlow, of the Centre for Auto Safety, said they will help to reduce broken ribs, common in back-seat passengers involved in a crash, because the airbag inflates more gently than a conventional front-seat airbag.
Via Daily Mail