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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ford's New Inflatable Seat Belt

Update: Wes Sherwood of Ford Safety PR has left answers to my questions in the first comment. Thanks Wes!

Ford unveiled a new inflatable rear seatbelt design today. (There's a neat video here.)

This looks like a pretty good idea, but I do have some questions. If any Ford safety or PR people are reading, please chime in.
  • What happens if you use one of these belts to anchor an infant seat, using the belt instead of LATCH anchors? Will the expanding baloon damage the infant seat?
  • Why not use these on the front, too? Seems like front passengers could benefit as well.
  • Will they trigger in a minor accident? Can they be repaired, or will they be expensive to replace, like airbags?
  • Will accessories such as seatbelt positioners, or fuzzy seat belt covers defeat or interfere with the balloon?


Wes Sherwood said...

I am the safety PR person at Ford. Thank you for your interest in this great new technology.

Here are answers to your questions:

• We recommend customers use the LATCH anchors, which are standard in all of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury North American vehicles, to restrain child seats as recommended by the U.S. government. We also tested the new rear inflatable seat belts in many ways, including with a variety of front- and rear-facing child seats, and did not find any cause for concern.

• We already offer many advanced safety features to help protect front seat occupants due to their higher risk of injuries. Offering the rear inflatable belt helps expand advanced safety technologies to rear seat occupants. Additionally, front air bags are required by U.S. government regulations to meet standards for unbelted occupants during a crash. We may consider this in the future, especially in developing markets where advanced safety features are not common.

• The inflatable belts could deploy in slower speed accidents than would traditional air bags and will need to be replaced after deploying. The feature will be very affordable, which will help us keep repair costs lower – consistent with our leading cost-of-ownership as measured by groups such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

• We do not recommend accessories that have not been tested with safety systems. Ford accessories are developed to be compatible with our vehicles, including those that involve safety features.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for you support Sherwood and the solution you have given.

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Jim Bussell said...

Awesome technology

Hugo said...

If Wes is still watching this thread I'd like to ask where Ford is at with the four-point belt they were working on? How soon before we see that or is it impossible given the variety of shapes humans come in?

mobitronia said...

This is a great technology. Consumers would think of safety as one of the top priorities and thus, I think that this would be an advantage.