Intent on providing even more and more-effective passenger protection in the case of front and side-impact crashes, Ford Motor Company has announced it will being installing a new type of advanced airbags in its vehicles, starting with the 2012 Focus. These more sophisticated variations on the existing inflatable restraints allow protection to be better tailored to the body types of individual seat occupants. They're also replacing the existing bag designs on other Ford vehicles during the course of the next several years.

Key to increasing the effectiveness of Ford's new driver-side front airbag lies in a reconfigured curve-shaped tether that contours the lower section of the bag into a "pocket" that helps reduce the impact forces exerted on the chest and rib areas. The redesigned passenger-side front airbag is better able to protect the head and neck areas by more selectively matching deployment forces with the size of the seat occupant. These new restraints also will be the first to employ adaptive venting technology that permits a controlled amount of inflation gas to be diverted to the cabin depending on the relative seat-to-dash distance. Similar technology also is found in the reengineered side airbags that incorporate unique shoulder vents that can vary the amount of inflation pressure based on the size of the seat occupant.

Ford says its new airbag technology was derived in part from decades of biomechanical research aimed at finding ways to further reduce life-threatening injuries in the case of severe impacts. Ford group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, noted: "This is our most advanced airbag system ever in a Ford car, and is designed to enhance protection for front occupants in the most common types of crashes."

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