Print 56 comment(s) - last by Keeir.. on Nov 9 at 7:31 PM

Demonstration of the new seatbelt  (Source: Detroit Free Press)
First generation of Ford's inflatable seat belt could help save lives

U.S. automaker Ford announced it will introduce a new seatbelt airbag that will first find its way into automobiles starting with the 2011 Ford Explorer SUV.

The Ford system operates by placing a small cylinder of cold compressed gas that sits underneath the rear seats, with an inflatable bag located in the seatbelts.  After a vehicle impact occurs, this new system is designed to spread the force of impact over more parts of the human body, which helps reduce the amount of impact felt by the human chest.

Although airbags are now common safety devices in all modern vehicles, Ford is poised to become the first automaker to introduce the inflatable rear seatbelts -- they'll launch next fall, when the 2011 Explorer is made available.

"It's hard to know for sure ahead of time, but this airbag has tremendous benefit by increasing the surface area (of the seat belt), and that allows them to restrain the torso better on a frail body," University of Michigan trauma surgeon Dr. Stewart Wang told The Detroit News.  "I think that the potential benefits are quite substantial."

As automakers look for new ways to attract car buyers, Ford has been quick to introduce in-car technology and additional features unavailable in some baseline and midrange vehicles from competing companies.

The new optional safety device will eventually be available for all Ford vehicles, but will have an additional cost auto buyers must pay.

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RE: Nothing new to see here...
By FITCamaro on 11/6/2009 11:53:46 AM , Rating: 1
Seriously. When you hit the ground hard enough to care about needing an airbag in a plane, its really not going to matter.

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By R6Raven on 11/6/2009 12:40:25 PM , Rating: 2

Seriously. When you hit the ground hard enough to care about needing an airbag in a plane, its really not going to matter.
Yeah, I think I would want the opposite actually - everything completely out of my way so I have ample room to put my head between my legs and kiss my ass goodbye!

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By ClownPuncher on 11/6/2009 1:49:27 PM , Rating: 5
Planes skid off runways when taking off and landing, they are going fast enough to cause injuries on impact, but arent always deadly.

Not every plane crash is a Bruce Willis movie.

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By Keeir on 11/6/2009 2:31:03 PM , Rating: 2

But a few things are different between the Airplane Infla-belt and the Car Infla-belt

#1. The airplane infla-belt creates a cushion in front of people's head and is only used when a soft surface (such as a seat) is not in frount of the passenger. In a "commerical" application (rather than private planes, which crash much much more often) there is really only 1-2 incidents a year out of 10 million+ commerical flights (in the US), and even then, many times, infla-belts would not have helped.

Infla-belts in airplanes can really help "general" aviation where small planes used for sport or as air taxis etc where overall safety standards, rigor, and maintainence is usually not up to the standards of commerical flights. (Also note, there is ~20 million "general" aviation flights a year as well. And usually less than 100 incidents where infla-belts would have helped)

#2. Automobile Infla-belts appear to lessen the impact force of seat belt restraints on the body, which should result in less "head-lash". Essentially, they come in play in every crash situation, but really only for rear seat passengers. Out of the approx. 40,000 people who died last year in car crashes and the ~60,000 injuried, only a small fraction were rear seat passengers, and only in a small fraction would the infla-belt have helped more than say side-curtain airbags. Its a neat feature, but just like the airplane situation, seems to be more of a "safety for safety's sake" rather than a situation driven by real need. At least though the car system probably would address 500-1,000 incidents a year (maybe not successfully).

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By MrPoletski on 11/9/2009 4:47:18 AM , Rating: 2
For an aircraft about to crash, why not explosively fill the cabin with that expanding foam stuff from demolition man?

Hit the ground, fuselage breaks open, fire ensues... everyone is fine because they are encased in flame retardent foam and breathing from a short term air supply.

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By MrPoletski on 11/9/2009 4:42:08 AM , Rating: 2
bu-bu-bu-but... b-b-b-brucie can take out an F-35 single handed!!

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