How Do Inflatable Seat Belts Work?
Since with the Ford Explorer in 2011, Ford has been equipping its vehicles with inflatable seat belts to help reduce the impact of a collision on passengers. Like a traditional airbag, the rear-seat seat belts automatically inflate in milliseconds to absorb some of the impact. Designed specifically for rear seat passengers, the airbag-like safety restraint is easier on the bones of children or elderly passengers that more frequently ride in the back. Ford’s brilliant innovation has been tested time and time again by safety engineers to show the effectiveness of reducing the risk of injury by distributing crash force energy across an area five times larger than the traditional seat belt.
While safety features like inflatable seat belts are part of what make Ford models so attractive, understanding how they operate helps prepare you for what will happen in the event of a collision. We’ll answer the question “How do inflatable seat belts work?” to give you a basic understanding of what you can expect if they happen to deploy.
Ford inflatable seat belts look identical to any other seat belt in everyday use. Upon impact of a collision, Ford’s crash sensing system determines if the inflatable safety belt should deploy. When it does, it will open along a seam on the side and the tubular airbag gets filled with cold compressed gas that originates from a cylinder below the seat and shoots through the specially designed belt buckle into the inflatable belt.
In less than a second, the belt will be fully inflated and able to help absorb crash energy. Rather than the jarring the small surface area of a traditional seat belt into the chest area, the inflatable seat belt is softer and wider to reduce direct impact.
In addition to the Explorer, the safety technology is available on the Ford Fusion, Flex and Taurus and will continue to be rolled out in other models. Ford recently announced that it will be selling the technology to other automakers and potentially to air travel and watercraft manufacturers.