GM Introduces First Front-Center Air Bag

In an effort to protect folks in the front seat during side impact crashes, General Motors announced earlier today that it plans to introduce the industry’s first front-center air bag in three of its vehicles starting with model year 2013.

The air bag would pop out from in between the driver and passenger seat, putting up a protective barrier between the two people. It is hoped that this airbag would provide an extra bit of protection in the event of a rollover.

“The front-center airbag has real potential to save lives in side crashes,” said Adrian Lund, president of the insurance Institute for Highway Safety, better known as the people that get to crash cars into walls and get paid for it. “GM and [airbag supplier] Takata are to be commended for taking the lead in this important area.”

Starting with the 2013 model year, the front-center air bag will be seen in all Buick Enclave vehicles, and GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse vehicles that are equipped with power seats.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s fatality database, far-side impact crashes account for 11% of the belted front occupant fatalities in nonrollover impacts between 2004 and 2009 involving 1999 model year or newer vehicles.

“While no restraint technology can address all body regions or all potential injuries, the front-center air bag is designed to work with the other air bags and safety belts in the vehicles to collectively deliver an even more comprehensive occupant restraint system,” said Gay Kent, GM executive director of vehicle safety and crashworthiness. “This technology is a further demonstration of GM’s above-and-beyond commitment to provide continuous occupant protection before, during and after a crash.”

GM to introduce industry’s first front-center air bag [Detroit Press]