Ford Brings Inflatable Seat Belts To More Models

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Ford is rolling out its inflatable rear seatbelts into more models starting next summer, adding the airbag-like restraints into the Ford Flex and into its Lincoln lineup.

Inflatable seat belts act much like air bags do in a crash, distributing the force of impact across a wider part of the passenger’s body than traditional seat belts. They’re also more comfortable to wear because they’re covered in a softer webbing than regular seatbelt material, which could encourage back-seat passengers to buckle up.

Ford says the belts help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear seat passengers, who are often vulnerable passengers like children or the elderly.

The technology was first rolled out in the Ford Explorer that was introduced late last year. About 40% of Explorer buyers are opting for the technology, says Ford. About 87% opt for the rear view camera, and 40% opt for the blind spot information system.

The inflatable seat belts deploy when the car’s sensors determine the vehicle has been in a collision. The tubular airbag inside the belt inflates with a cold compressed gas, which flows up a specially designed buckle. The airbags pop out like an accordion, expanding sideways across the passenger’s body.

“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,” says Srini Sundararajan, safety technical leader for Ford Research and Innovation.

The belts cost $195 on the current Explorer, although they are not available on every version of the SUV.

Stashi is an Editor at Driver Pulse, a provider of online automotive editorial reviews and latest news throughout the automotive industry. From the sight of sleek curves to the sound of a roaring engine, old and new, she has a great love for vehicles of all makes and models. What she finds most exciting is that automakers of iconic muscle cars from the past, such as Ford and Chevrolet, are reproducing them for this generation of gearheads. Her dream car, the 1964 or 1966 Ford Mustang, is the ultimate American pony car and paved the way for her love of growling and rumbling engines of old school muscle cars. She spent her whole life in the Midwest and still finds herself playing the same game she once played with her father when she was a young girl. It’s a game her father liked to call “Name that make and model”. This game has become more challenging as the years pass making it a great way to pass the time on long road trips. She believes that automobiles, old and new, are an art form that can be enjoyed by both children and adults.

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