Ford Motor Company is planning to offer a new kind of rear seat belts. These new rear seat belts do the work of seats belts as well as of airbags. Ford Motors said that it will start making use of these seat belts on the redesigned 2011 Explorer SUV.
These new seat belts contain an inflatable bag inside the shoulder strap and a small cylinder of cold compressed gas beneath the seat that is dispensed through the buckle when a crash is detected. The belts inflate less explosively than a traditional air bag and are designed to spread the force of a crash over an area of the body five times as large as regular seat belts do.
Ford is the first automaker to offer these inflatable rear seat belts, a technology aimed at reducing injuries to children and elderly passengers in a crash. Ford is trying to use this technology as a way to attract new customers, particularly at a time when many vehicles come with six or more air bags and myriad other safety features.
Ford feels that children and older people commonly sit in the back seat and are more susceptible to being injured in a crash, particularly in the head, chest or neck, than other occupants of a vehicle. Ford also offers radar-enabled adaptive cruise control and amenities called MyKey, which allows parents to impose certain limitations on teenage drivers, and Sync, a system that permits hands-free interaction with mobile phones and the car’s audio system.
Ford first demonstrated the concept of inflatable belts in 2001. Another automaker, Toyota, is planning to offer a similar feature next year in the Lexus LFA.