General Motors is introducing the automotive industry’s first front center air bag, designed to protect the driver and front passenger in far-side impact crashes. The new front center air bag will make its production debut on the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Chevrolet Traverse crossovers starting from the 2013 model year. It will be standard on Acadia and Traverse with power seats and all Enclaves.
“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.
According to GM’s analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System database, “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 involving 1999 model year or newer vehicles.”
GM says that the front center air bag deploys from the right side of the driver’s seat and can protect the driver during passenger-side crashes when he is the only occupant of the car while also acting as an energy-absorbing cushion between driver and front passenger in both driver- and passenger-side crashes.