Advanced Airbags Required for 2004 Model Year
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requiring a 2004 model year phase-in of "advanced" or "smart" air bags to help protect children and very small adults from airbag-related injuries and deaths. Automakers have been seeking ways to make front passenger air bags that are safer for children but still protect adults in a crash. "The coming technology, which uses various types of sensors to be able to identify the weight of the person that might be in that seat and whether or not you are using a child safety seat, is a much more advanced step," says Robert Sinclair, Jr. of the Automobile Club of New York. The advanced airbag system helps protect children by turning off the air bag if it detects a child in a child seat. "The Passenger Sensing System actually involves 2 separate sensors -- one in the seat cushion and one in the seatbelt," says Bob Lange, safety director, General Motors. "The output from those two systems is actually combined in a computer control mechanism that can then make a decision about airbag deployment." GM has begun installing advanced airbag technology in many of its 2003 models. While this safety system meets the government's new airbag rule, GM stresses that no system is fool-proof, and continues to recommend that children 12 and under ride in the back seat, properly restrained.