GM is adding Front Center Airbag to Buick, GMC and Chevrolet
The front center airbag protects both the front passenger and the driver in a far-side impact. The airbag deploys from the right side of the driver’s seat and opens in between the front row seats. It is designed to provide restraint during passenger side crashes when the driver is the only front occupant, and also acts as an energy-absorbing cushion between the driver and passenger in both driver- and passenger-side crashes. GM says that the airbag is expected to provide protection in rollover situations.
The front center air bag deploys from the right side of the driver’s seat and positions itself between the front row seats near the center of the vehicle. This tethered, tubular air bag is designed to provide restraint during passenger-side crashes when the driver is the only front occupant, and also acts as an energy absorbing cushion between driver and front passenger in both driver- and passenger-side crashes. The air bag also is expected to provide benefit in rollovers.
GM looked at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System database to determine that far-side impact crashes, which the front center airbag primarily addresses, accounted for 11 percent of the belted front occupant fatalities in non-rollover impacts between 2004 and 2009. Model years in the data base were 1999 and newer,
These far-side fatalities, where the occupant is on the non-struck side of the vehicle, also represent 29 percent of all the belted front occupant fatalities in side impacts.
Federal regulation does not require this front center airbag and GM is the first manufacturer to offer it. The vehicles that will have this airbag have received five-star Overall and Side Crash safety ratings from NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program, and 2011 Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
“The front center airbag has real potential to save lives in side crashes,” said Adrian Lund, president of the insurance Institute for Highway Safety.