A center airbag will be introduced by General Motors on the 2013 Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse crossovers. This airbag will be positioned between the front seats and it is intended to protect the driver and front passenger in side-impact crashes. It is placed on the right side of the driver's seat. In the event of a side-impact crash, the airbag inflates between the front seats.
This safety feature will be available as standard on all Enclaves as well as on Acadia and Traverse models with power seats.
According to the fatality analysis reporting system database of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, side-impact crashes make up 11% of the belted front occupant deaths in nonrollover impacts between 2004 and 2009. The impacts affected 1999 model or newer vehicles. GM said that in 29% of all the belted front occupant fatalities in side impacts, the occupant was on the nonstruck side of the vehicle.
In a statement, Scott Thomas, senior staff engineer in GM's advanced restraint systems, said that federal laws don’t require the front center airbag. He added that there’s no other airbag used on current passenger vehicles that provide the type of restraint and cushioning this airbag provides for front occupants.
The development of the airbag by GM and Japanese supplier Takata Corp. was accomplished in three years. Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said that there’s “real potential” for the front center airbag to save lives in side crashes.
The front center airbag is seen to help GM maintain its record in third-party crash test performance. The 2012 models of GM’s midsize crossovers have been given a five-star Overall and Side Crash safety ratings by the NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program, as well as being one of the 2011 Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety president Adrian Lund said that the front center airbag can really save lives in the event of side crashes, adding that both GM and Takata should be commended for pioneering moves in this area.
GM and Takata created the front center airbag within three years and tested many designs to help get the right restraint, cushioning and packaging for a range of occupant positions and crashes. The jointly patented cushion design takes into account a variety of occupant sizes as well as having one-of-a-kind performance characteristics.
GM executive director of vehicle safety and crashworthiness Gay Kent explains that there is no restraint technology currently available that can account for all potential injuries and body regions, but the front center air bag can work with other airbags and safety harnesses to give riders a comprehensive restraint system. Kent adds that the technology is a testament of the carmaker’s commitment to give their cars’ occupants proper protection in the event of a crash.
General Motors is one of the biggest automakers in the world and has been in the market since 1908. The carmaker has its headquarters in Detroit and employs 208,000 people around the world. It has operations in at least 120 countries. The carmakers, along with its partners produce trucks and cars in 30 countries. It is also connected to several brands such as Baojun, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, Isuzu, Jiefang, Daewoo, Holden, Vauxhall, Wuling, and Opel. Its Chevrolet brand celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011. GM’s biggest national markets include China, the United States, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Canada. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the leader in vehicle safety, information and security services. Visit www.gm.com to learn more about the carmaker.