The article, “How Ford's Inflatable Seatbelt Will Save Lives ” introduces Ford’s new addition to their 2011 Ford Explorer—an inflatable seatbelt. The seatbelt blows up within 40 milliseconds; soon enough to save the lives of the backseat passengers.
It is only natural that when a company takes the risk of implementing new technology there will be pros and cons. Taking into account that this invention is merely for the safety of the public, I believe there are more pros than cons.
Firstly, the inflatable seatbelt has additional cushion, so it is said to be more comfortable. Seatbelt usage has increased from 11% in 1981 to about 85% in 2012. This is a result of law enforcement, advertisements, and education (Motor Vehicle Safety). The promise of additional comfort provided by the new seatbelt will encourage the remaining 15% to wear a seatbelt. Therefore, without the airbag-feature being put into effect, the rider is already safer than when they did not wear the seatbelt. Plus, everyone loves to try out the “cool new inventions,” so the percentage of people wearing a seatbelt will ideally increase due to curiosity.
Secondly, the seatbelt and the airbag are the two ways to reduce harm when in an accident. The only problem is: the person in the backseat cannot benefit from the airbag. They have to rely on the seatbelt alone, but even then there are cases when the material of the seatbelt combined with the impact of the crash have caused internal bleeding. The inflatable seatbelt will protect the backseat passenger as effectively as the standard airbag. This is a reassuring invention for passengers of all ages.
However, one major downside I noticed was that currently only Ford is being proactive about incorporating the inflatable seatbelt. Mercedes has made plans to incorporate it into their new line of cars but are still in the works. The problem is that new cars are expensive enough, but with the added security, prices may increase significantly. Only those who can afford the new car will be able to benefit from the product. Safety should be equally accessible for every class in society. Hopefully within time they will be put into less expensive cars.
The inflatable seatbelt will also benefit young children. Some parents put their children in the front seat to have them by their side, or so they can have the security of the air bag—even if the airbag is too powerful. The inflatable seatbelt enables the child to sit in the back seat, avoid the powerful mass of the regular airbag and feel secured by the affective inflatable seatbelt.
To conclude, Ford is currently the only company to offer the groundbreaking invention. They have hopefully started a trend and changed the direction of newly produced cars, with safety at the forefront. If it proves to be a success, there is a good chance it could become a mandatory feature for all cars.