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June 16, 2010

Ford Shows Off World's First Rear Seat Belt with Airbags Inside

Inflatable seat belt on boy As part of their countrywide tour across American, Ford yesterday showed off the latest and greatest car safety technology, including the world's first rear inflatable seat belt, at the Vermont Avenue Boys and Girls Club in Los Angeles. That's right: The rear seat belt holds an airbag inside. It deploys in the event of a crash, providing greater protection for the head, neck, and torso of the passenger - spreading the impact force over a five times greater area than a regular seat belt. 

Ford Inflatable Seat Belt - Duo Just as important, these inflatable seat belts are actually more comfortable than a standard seat belt, because the airbag provides cushioning, and there are no rough edges on the belt. They've also been tested and work with child safety seats (car seats). Ford’s inflatable rear seat belts will debut on the next-generation Ford Explorer SUV, which goes into production next year; Ford eventually plans to offer the technology in vehicles globally before bringing them into mass U.S. production. 

There are a whole host of already available crash avoidance and driver assist safety innovations from Ford but one of my favorites from the demo is MyKey, a feature any parent of a teen driver should seriously consider. Using a special key fob, MyKey limits the top speed to 80 miles per hour, won't start the car unless front seat driver and passenger are belted, provides earlier "low fuel" warnings, limits audio system volume, and more. Is this "nanny" technology? Sure it is. But vehicle accidents kill more teens than any other cause by far, making it easy to justify. Maybe one day all vehicles will have technology like this, but for now Ford's the only carmaker that's got it in one nice little option. 

Ford Future of Safety vehicle Also at the demo, I experienced Ford's Active Park Assist in action - and it works like a charm. The Park Assist determines if there's a usable parking space to either your right or left - whichever you choose. Once it has selected a spot, you release the steering wheel completely, and the vehicle will guide itself into any space - even one that is only 10 percent bigger than the car itself. This is a great technology for anyone who has difficulty with parallel parking or is unsure if an empty space will really be big enough to fit into (especially helpful in cities; I would know!). The technology is available on Ford Escape, Lincoln MKS sedan and all-new Lincoln MKT crossover, but, like most vehicle technologies, is becoming available in other vehicles over time.

Joanne HelperinJoanne Helperin
Consumer Marketing Director, Blog Editor
AskPatty.com, Inc.
www.askpatty.com

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