General Motors has worked with Takata Corp. for the past three years designing and developing a center airbag between the front seats. This airbag is new to the industry and offers protection in the event of a side-impact crash. This is not the first innovation to add safety to vehicles as the Takata Corp. is also working on a device to check a driver’s blood-alcohol content at the touch of a button.
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The new airbag is fitted to the right side of the driver’s seat. Once there is a side-impact crash, the air back inflates between the front driver and passenger seats to keep the driver more upright and/or the two passengers from slamming into each other.
Between 2004 and 2009, 11 percent of all belted front occupant fatalities in non-rollover impacts were side-impact crashes. The percentage of fatalities is even higher for the occupants who are on the side that does not get hit, totaling 29 percent.
“The front center airbag is not required by federal regulation, and no other airbag in passenger vehicles today offers the type of restraint and cushioning this airbag is designed to provide for front occupants,” said Scott Thomas, senior staff engineer in GM's advanced restraint systems, in a statement to Automotive News.
As the technology is not required, Michigan Buick dealers are proud to be able to present vehicles in the future with an extra safety feature no other automaker offers to their customers. The airbag will be standard on all 2013 Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and the Chevrolet Traverse crossovers with power seats while being an option for the other models.
“The front center airbag has real potential to save lives in side crashes,” Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said in a statement. “GM and Takata are to be commended for taking the lead in this important area.”
The 2013 models may be released as early as mid-2012, which means Michigan Buick dealers may be able to offer the safer vehicles within a year. General Motors and Takata are taking safety to the next level as they add safety features above and beyond what is required. What will they think of next?
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[Source(s): Automotive News]