Our battered Michigan auto industry still has a trick or two up its sleeve. A couple of weeks ago, Michigan Radio had a feature on inflatable rear seat belts that will be offered as an option on next year’s Ford Explorer. Seat belts have saved an estimated 170,000 lives since they were introduced in 1968, and they talked with Ford’s senior technical leader for safety, Steve Rouhana about the rear seat belts that inflate at a lower speed than front-seat air bags (and scroll down for a video of the belts in action):
“Because this belt inflates and increases in size to about five times the area on the chest, it reduces the pressure on the chest — which reduces the risk of chest injury,” says Rouhana.
The air bags could be of special benefit to elderly, frail people who might otherwise suffer cracked ribs or other injuries from seat belts.
Rouhana says it’s expected the devices will provide even more protection for children.
“As a child is moving forward (after an accident), the tube catches the chin, in the dummy testing we’ve done, we’ve shown lower neck loads, which means lower risk of neck injury as well.”