Every car is mandated to have seat belts and airbags to ensure safety for each passenger on the road, but Ford created the next step in seat belt technology when they installed an inflatable seat belt in their 2011 Explorer.In the event of a crash, the seat belts, installed only in the rear seats, automatically inflate within milliseconds.
See the inflatable seat belt in action >
This technology functions much like an airbag and was designed to protect the fragile bones of back seat passengers, like children and the elderly, who are more vulnerable to head, chest and neck injuries.
Ford has stated that they eventually plan to offer inflatable seat belt technology in all new vehicles around the world, and Mercedes-Benz announced that they will install a similar technology, called a BeltBag, in some of their models within the next year.
We broke down the step-by-step process to show how the inflatable seat belt works, based on a YouTube video that includes footage from a Ford crash test.
Ford debuted the inflatable seat belt in its 2011 Explorer, but the company is planning for a worldwide release next year.
See those small ribbed lines in between this man's fingers? That's where the airbag would deploy from upon impact.
When the car senses a crash, cold compressed gas quickly flows into the airbag via a storage cylinder below the seat belt.
Upon impact, the airbag deploys from the seam of the seat belt in 40 milliseconds, giving the passenger near instant protection.
Ford said that the blow-up belts spread the force of the crash over five times more area of the body than conventional seat belts.
Traditional seat belts can cause their fair share of damage in crashes, since they only cover a small surface area. Just look at the difference between the inflatable seat belt and a traditional seat belt.
The inflatable seat belts are only available in the back seats of Ford vehicles but could eventually be installed in front seats as well.
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