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Ford is offering its inflatable rear seat belt technology to other companies and industries, including rival car makers. Ford believes the inflatable seat belts could also be used by the military or in aircraft or boats.
The company is making the technology available to other companies as part of an effort to make travel safer and reduce injuries. Ford has made other safety technology available for licensing by its competitors in the past.
Inflatable rear seat belts are designed to provide additional protection for rear-seat passengers, who are often children and older adults who are more at risk for head, neck, and chest injuries. The inflatable rear seat belts contain air bags. They function like traditional seat belts under normal circumstances.
In the event of an accident, sensors determine when the belt should inflate. They send a signal to the belt’s tubular air bag that causes it to quickly inflate with compressed gas. The seat belt inflates to cover a portion of the occupant’s torso five times wider than a traditional seat belt, which spreads the force of the impact over a broader area and reduces the pressure of the impact. It can also control head and neck motion, which can reduce the likelihood of injury.
Inflatable rear seatbelts are currently available in Ford’s Explorer, Taurus, Flex, and Fusion models and in the Lincoln MKT and MKZ. The technology will also be available in the 2015 F-150.
The inflatable seat belts can be used with child car seats and boosters. Safety experts agree that the rear seat is the safest place for children.