Front Center Air Bag: GM Taking Volvo's Place as Car Safety Champion?

By Joel Arellano | September 29, 2011
Car safety continues to be a battleground among automakers to catch the consumer's dollar, and General Motors just upped the ante by introducing the first front-center air bag. Developed with Takata, a supplier of automotive safety technology, GM's front-center airbag is designed to protect the front passenger when the driver side of the vehicle is struck in a side collision ala "far-side impact crash". The system works by deploying an air bag between the driver and front passenger seats, protecting the passenger's head and torso in a collision on the driver's side of the car, and vice versa. Adrian Lund, president of the insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said in a statement, “The front center airbag has real potential to save lives in side crashes. GM and Takata are to be commended for taking the lead in this important area.” GM plans to roll out the new airbag system in its 2013 Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Chevrolet Traverse models, with the feature standard on all Enclave SUVs and Acadia and Traverse models with power seats. Note that the 2011 models of these vehicles already receive five-star safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and are Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as well. According to GM, development of the airbag started three years ago when, after analyzing data from the NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting system, it discovered that 29 percent of all driver and front passenger deaths in side impact crashes result from far-side impact crashes. GM states the front center air bag is effective in rollover accidents, too. There is no federal regulation requiring front center air bags in vehicles.
Source: General Motors