GM has announced the introduction of the auto industry’s first ever front center air bag that is designed to protect drivers and front passengers in far-side impact crashes where the affected occupant is on the opposite, non-struck side of the vehicle.
The new front center air bag will be standard on the 2013 Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevy Traverse crossovers. The front center air bag deploys from the right side of the driver’s seat. It’s designed to provide protection in passenger-side crashes when the driver is the only front occupant and also acts as an energy absorbing cushion between the driver and front passenger in both driver- and passenger-side crashes.
GM’s analysis of NHTSA’s reporting found that far-side impact crashes, accounted for 11 percent of the belted front occupant fatalities in non-rollover impacts between 2004 and 2009. Far-side fatalities also 29 percent of all the belted front occupant fatalities in side impacts.
“The front center air bag is not required by federal regulation, and no other air bag in passenger vehicles today offers the type of restraint and cushioning this air bag is designed to provide for front occupants,” said Scott Thomas, senior staff engineer in GM’s advanced restraint systems.