Inflatable seatbelt takes safety award at New York auto show

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Ford's inflatable seatbelts have been honored as the best traffic safety achievement of the year at the New York International Auto Show.

The unique rear seatbelt design, which launched with the 2011 Ford Explorer, was presented with the 2011 Traffic Safety Achievement Award at the World Traffic Safety Symposium, held annually as part of the New York show.

The seatbelts are designed to reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear seat occupants - typically children - by rapidly expanding in the event of a crash.

The increased diameter of the belt when inflated more effectively holds the occupant in place and distributes the force of the crash across a wider area on the torso, which reduces the risk of an injury.

As the belts are slightly thicker and rounder than traditional belts when they are not deployed, Ford believes that the technology also increases the propensity of rear-seat occupants to buckle up.

The Detroit giant confirmed April 29 that it planned to introduce the technology, which is currently a Ford exclusive, globally "over time."

The New York International Auto Show is open through May 1 in New York City.

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