South Florida drivers and motorists around the country can look forward to a new innovation in seat beat technology by Ford Motor Co. Ford will introduce a seat belt-mounted air bag in its 2011 Ford Explorer back seat and, according to Ford, will be the first automaker put this technology in mass production.
According to a recent article on Yahoo Auto, the air big fits in a pocket in the seat belt. The car sends a signal to release the bag, which inflates with cooler air and more safely as compared with front air bags. The air bags are particularly situated for the safety of children. A Ford engineer responsible for its development, which has been in the works for a decade, claims that the seat belt provides even distribution across the chest, providing less chance of injury and support to the head and neck.
The New York Times reported that along with the seat belt, Ford hopes to use this and other safety features to attract new customers. Ford also has developed MyKey, which allows parents to put restrictions on their teenage drivers, radar-enable cruise control and systems for hands-free mobile phone and audio operation.
However, Ford will have obstacles to overcome. In “Ford Defective Switch Recall to Add Over 4 Million Vehicles” we reported the automaker coming under fire due to a product defect in the cruise control switch of some of its vehicles. The New York Times also noted that a survey from Carmax showed that consumers rank safety fifth out of six factors they consider the most important when purchasing a vehicle. The Yahoo Auto report also noted that belt usage in the back seat is only at a 60 percent, while overall usage of seat belts is 83 percent.
Though Ford admits the technology is expensive, their hope is to make the seat belts available as an option particularly geared towards families with small children. The price may come down if the technology expands to Ford’s other vehicles. We hope that automakers continue to develop technology in driver safety to make cars safer for everyone.