On November 5 Ford displayed the car industry's first production-ready inflatable rear-seat belts, which will soon be found in their vehicles globally.
The new technology combines the attributes of traditional shoulder seat belts and air bags. Just 40 milliseconds after a crash the seat belt inflates to distribute the impact over five times more body area than a conventional restraint, thus reducing the possibility of injury.
Airbags have greatly increased the safety of front-seat passengers, and Ford hopes the new seat belts will do the same for rear-seat occupants, who more often children or older passengers and more vulnerable to trauma.
The new seat belts do feel differently on the body than shoulder harnesses but Ford claims that 90 percent of their research participants indicated that their inflatable seat belts are similar to or more comfortable than the traditional belts.
The inflatable rear seatbelts will first go on sale with their fifth-generation Ford Explorer America SUV, debuting next year. The company announced their intentions to offer the technology in vehicles globally, but did not specify a target date.
The €255,000 Lexus LF-A supercar, which debuted last month at the Tokyo Auto Show, was the first car to utilize front-seat belt airbags.