General Motors quietly started equipping some of its key models with advanced air bag technologies lately, and the automaker says that move has paid off in helping its models achieve “Top Safety Pick” rankings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
We’ve already covered one of the two key air bag technologies noted in GM’s press release, that being the Cruze’s flexible vented driver’s air bag. The bag uses a single-stage inflator that can vary its intensity of inflation based on the severity of the collision, something that most other cars use two different inflators to accomplish. Meanwhile, the bag itself is vented so that the driver’s body can actually push some of the air out of it during a collision, allowing the bag to absorb more of the force of impact while reducing the likelihood of air bag-related injury.
GM General Director of Vehicle Safety and Crashworthiness, Gay Kent said, “These new air bag technologies provide smart ways to manage crash forces, and are an integral part of Cruze’s continued success in safety testing and real world performance. The latest safety rating reflects the confidence we have in its new and carry-over safety technologies and overall crashworthiness.”
Debuting in 2013 GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave midsize crossovers is the other air bag technology GM is spotlighting: a front-center air bag. While not required by government regulation, the automaker says the air bag, which is mounted to the right of the driver’s seat and inflates between the front occupants during side-impact crashes, has the potential to save a lot of lives:
“Far side impacts, where the vehicle is impacted on the passenger side of the vehicle, were studied by GM through an analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System database. GM found that 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. Far-side fatalities also represented 29 percent of all the belted front occupant fatalities in side impacts.”
Thanks in part to the front center air bag technology, the Acadia, Traverse, and Enclave all received IIHS “Top Safety Pick” status for the 2013 model year. The 2013 Cruze, with its flexible vented air bag, maintained its “Top Safety Pick” status that it had already achieved in the 2011 and 2012 model years despite the car’s use of traditional two-stage air bag inflation technology in those earlier years.