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Ford unveils inflatable seatbelts

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 00:00:00 -0800

Ford has unveiled inflatable seatbelts which will be fitted to 2010 cars

Airbags started out in the middle of the steering wheel of an S Class Mercedes. Now they’re everywhere and they’re no longer a novelty. We just take them for granted. Except when you jump in an old car (as we did the other week with the Escort Mexico) when you look at the steering wheel and realise not only that in a car of that age it’s likely to make a big mess of your body if you hit anything hard, but there’s not even the reassurance of a little explosion and a soft landing.

And now Ford have gone one step further and have revealed the inflatable seatbelt, which is effectively an airbag and a seatbelt rolled in to one. Designed for rear seat passengers (front seat passengers get a whole heap of airbags already). When you have a prang the seatbelt inflates as quickly as an airbag to five times normal size, distributing the force of the impact across a much wider area and reducing injury.

Ford intends fitting the new inflatable seatbelts across its range next year in the US, with a rapid global roll-out. It’s a damn fine idea; we’re all for anything that helps safety and impact injury reduction. And good on Ford for what seems like a world first. Or is it?

We have an inkling that the new Lexus LF-A gets an airbag seatbelt as well. We may be wrong, but if it does who will get it to market first?

By Cars UK