Wednesday, October 5, 2011

General Motors Leads With Industry-First Front Center Airbag

The Chevrolet Cruze has 10 standard airbags and that was an industry first for a compact car. Today, General Motors adds another industry first, announcing it will introduce the first front center airbag on the 2013 Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse crossovers.

The 2012 Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse are already tops in safety scores with five-star overall and side crash ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Now, for 2013, they’ll be even safer.

What a front center airbag is and how it works

The front center airbag is an inflatable restraint that protects the driver and front passengers during far-side impact crashes. The airbag deploys from the right-hand side of the driver’s seat, positioning itself between the front-row seats near the vehicle’s center.

The airbag is a tethered tubular model, jointly developed over a three-year period by General Motors and technology supplier Takata. The front center airbag was designed to provide driver restraint during passenger-side crashes when the driver is the only occupant in the vehicle. It also acts as an energy-absorbing cushion between the driver and front passenger during both driver- and side-passenger crashes.

General Motors says the front center airbag is also expected to provide protection during rollovers.

Part of the motivation for designing the safety feature was GM’s analysis of the NHTSA’s fatality database which found that 29 percent of belted front occupant fatalities involved being struck on the opposite (far-side) of the vehicle.

In a GM press release, Scott Thomas, senior staff engineer of GM’s advanced restraint systems, said, “The front center air bag is not required by federal regulation, an no other air bag in passenger vehicles today offers the type of restraint and cushioning this air bag is designed to provide for front occupants.”

GM points out that this industry-first front center airbag is part of a comprehensive occupant restraint system. Maximum benefit will only be achieved if occupants wear their seat belts.

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