Ford's Inflatable Seat Belts Not Just Hot Air

More comfortable, and safer than regular airbags
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2009 7:43 PM CST
Mary McWilliams tries a seat belt-mounted air bag on a demonstrator at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Still not a fan of wearing your seat belt? Ford’s latest take on the safety standby could change your mind: It’s inflatable, as with vehicle air bags, and its softer webbing has been a comfortable hit with test groups. And unlike many front-seat airbags, the belts inflate with less force, making them safe for all ages, USA Today reports.

Ford’s been working on the belts for nearly a decade, and they’ve survived a number of rounds of budget woes. They’ll be an option the next Ford Explorer sold in the US. “People kept saying, ‘It cannot be done, inflatable belts cannot be done,’” one engineer says, “while all the tests we kept doing kept saying, ‘It can be done, it can be done.’”
(Read more Ford Motor Co. stories.)