Ford to Add Rear Inflatable Seat Belts to More Vehicles - BodyShop Business
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Ford to Add Rear Inflatable Seat Belts to More Vehicles

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Ford has announced that the rear inflatable seat belts it
introduced on the new Ford Explorer will also be available on next year’s Ford
Flex and Lincoln vehicles.

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"This advanced restraint system is designed to help
reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear seat passengers, often children
and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries," said
Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president of Sustainability, Environment and
Safety Engineering.

The first inflatable belts were added this spring. The
Explorers featured other safety technology as well. Of the first 19,000
Explorer orders received:

• 87 percent include rear view camera

• 40 percent include BLIS (Blind Spot Information System)
with cross-traffic alert

• 22 percent include adaptive cruise control with forward
collision warning, active park assist and rain-sensing wipers

The inflatable seat belts are designed to deploy over a
vehicle occupant’s torso and shoulder in 40 milliseconds in the event of a
crash.

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Ford says that in the event of a frontal or side crash,
the inflated belt helps distribute crash force energy across five times more of
the occupant’s torso than a traditional belt. That expands its range of
protection and helps reduce the risk of injury by diffusing crash pressure over
a larger area, while providing additional support to the head and neck. After
deployment, the belt remains inflated for several seconds before dispersing its
air through the pores of the airbag.

Vehicle safety sensors determine the severity of the
collision in the blink of an eye and deploy the inflatable belt’s airbag. Each
belt’s tubular airbag inflates with cold compressed gas, which flows through a
specially designed buckle from a cylinder housed below the seat.

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The use of cold compressed gas instead of a
heat-generating chemical reaction – which is typical of traditional airbag
systems – means the inflated belts feel no warmer on the wearer’s body than the
ambient temperature. The inflatable belts also fill at a lower pressure and a
slower rate than traditional airbags, because the device doesn’t need to close
a gap between the belt and the occupant. The inflatable belt’s accordion-folded
bag breaks through the belt fabric as it fills with air, expanding sideways
across the occupant’s body.

On the 2002 Ford Explorer, Ford launched the industry’s
first rollover-activated side curtain airbags – called Safety Canopy – as well
as roll stability control technology that helped to detect and prevent side-to-side
skidding and other situations that could lead to rollovers.

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