From Detroit News Online comes … news from Detroit… online… about how Ford Motors is developing a new kind of airbag, and a seatbelt configuration borrowed from race cars:
In prototype testing, the company said consumers thought the four-point belt was more comfortable. Seniors thought that it was easier to use because the buckle is in the front and easier to latch.
Ford developed an inflatable belt as a way to bring the benefit of air bags to passengers in the rear seat.
A strap of air bag material is hidden in the seat belt strap, which is slightly wider and a little thicker than a traditional strap. When the air bag sensor deploys, the bag rips through the seams of the seat belt and inflates into a cylindrical shape.
The bag helps spread the forces of a crash over a broader section of the body than the traditional two-inch wide seat belt, reducing the pressure on the chest and helping to control the movement of the head and neck.
Both the four-point belt and the inflatable design cut down on the pressure on the chest from impacts, according to Ford research.
Neat stuff. They’re working on special latches for pregnant women, and it still needs federal approval, but this would be the first major upgrade in seatbelt design since the three-point belt was standardized in 1974.