When Ford introduced inflatable rear seatbelts on the 2011 Explorer, they were named the Best New Technology of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
They've subsequently become available on the Ford Flex and Taurus and the Lincoln MKT and MKZ. Now Ford says they will also be offered on the 2014 Fusion sedan, including Fusion Hybrid and Energi models.
The Fusion will be the only car in the popular mid-size segment to offer the safety feature.
In a crash, sensors determine when the inflatable belt should deploy and trigger the belt’s inflation with compressed gas.
"The inflatable belt is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear-seat passengers, often children and older passengers, who can be more vulnerable to such injuries," said Srinivasan Sundararajan, safety technical leader with Ford’s research and advanced engineering group.
In normal use, the inflatable belts operate the same as conventional seatbelts, and are compatible with child car seats and boosters.
During a crash, the inflatable belt helps distribute crash forces across a greater area of an occupant’s torso than a traditional belt – up to five times greater. Spreading the pressure over a larger area helps reduce pressure on the person’s chest as well as helping to control head and neck motion.
Mercedes-Benz also introduced an inflatable rear seatbelt on its flagship 2014 S-Class sedan.