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Ford’s Safety Technologies Extend Into Second Row


* A leader in safety innovation, Ford’s new concepts will feature advanced safety technologies for backseat passengers.
* Second-row inflatable safety belts have the potential to significantly reduce injuries.
* BeltMinder™ extends into second row of new Ford concept.

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 30 – Ford is reaching back to take safety technology a major step forward. Inflatable safety belts and BeltMinder™ for backseat passengers are among the innovative safety features found on concept vehicles to be unveiled by the company at the 2006 North American International Auto Show.

“Ford is raising the bar on second-row occupant protection by expanding and adding new technologies to vehicles,” says Priya Prasad, Ford’s safety technical fellow. “These concepts provide us with the platform to explore the possibilities of these technologies.”

Inflatable Safety Belts

Air bag technology traditionally has been focused on the front of the vehicle, where occupants are at greatest risk for injury during a front impact.

Ford, however, is also paying attention to what happens in the backseat during an accident. Using advances in air bag inflation and construction, Ford engineers have developed a small, tubular-shaped inflatable bag that can deploy inside a shoulder belt in the event of a crash. This patent-pending inflatable safety belt system has potential to cover the entire bodily area where the belt makes contact with the torso. The expected result is a further reduction in head and neck injury risk.

The inflatable safety belt technology is unique in many ways:

The inflated portion of the safety belt across the shoulder and upper chest may be able to limit motion of the head in a crash, with the potential to reduce head and neck injuries.
Inflating the area alongside the torso belt may provide many of the same benefits as pretensioner devices – tightening the shoulder and lap belts before crash forces are transmitted, positioning the person in relation to other safety devices in the vehicle.
The broader contact area of the inflatable safety belt has the potential to spread impact forces across the chest, further reducing the changes of injury.
This technology offers promise along many fronts and goes a long way in offering advanced second row occupant safety" says Prasad.

BeltMinder™ for Second-Row Occupants

Ford’s concepts will also contain an advanced version of its innovative BeltMinder™ system – one that extends into the backseat.

The company’s patented BeltMinder™ technology goes farther than the federally required safety belt reminder chiming system. In Ford vehicles, the driver or front passenger who remains unbuckled is regularly reminded to buckle up.

The system chimes and flashes a warning lamp for six seconds every 30 seconds for five minutes, or until the driver buckles up, whichever comes first. The second-row BeltMinder™ technology will now be able to alert the driver when second row passengers have not buckled their safety belts.

BeltMinder™ works. Research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that safety belt use was five percentage points higher in vehicles with BeltMinder. And, government research shows that more than 3,000 lives could be saved and thousands of injuries could be prevented annually if the nationwide safety belt use rate climbed to 90 percent. According to recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, today’s safety belt use is 82 percent.

“Our BeltMinder™ technology helps remind customers to buckle up,” says Prasad. “It’s a simple reminder that makes a big difference in saving lives. It only makes sense for us to look at ways of expanding this technology to cover additional seating positions in a vehicle”

Many other safety technologies will be featured on Ford concept and production vehicles at the North American International Auto Show including:

A Lincoln teaser will feature an innovative lighting technology. Ford’s Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) represents an industry breakthrough in front lighting technology and addresses nighttime driving safety, one of the most dangerous driving conditions in the United States. The Lincoln lighting system uses LEDs to allow drivers to see better around the curve than they do with current cornering adaptive lighting systems – making for safer nighttime driving.
A Ford concept will feature Ford’s frontal crash enhanced underride protection - BlockerBeam™. The first in the industry to introduce this system, BlockerBeam™ provides enhanced frontal crash compatibility with cars on the road – without compromising the vehicle’s usefulness.
By the end of the year, Ford will have more than half a million vehicles equipped with AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control – Ford’s exclusive stability technology – on the road. This number will grow as Ford Motor Company adds two more vehicles to its product line-up that are available with AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control.
Two new Ford Motor Company products will feature Ford’s Personal Safety System®. For passive occupant protection, Ford’s Personal Safety System® features dual-deployment front air bags, energy absorbing safety belts, load limiting retractors and pretensioners, all which will help to create one of the safest cabins in its segment.


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