GM has a new air bag that could help reduce the death toll in “far-side impact crashes.” In the event of a collision, the tubular air bag is deployed from the front seats into the center of the car.
In an accident, you’re secured to the seat by a seat belt and cushioned by air bags that deploy from the steering wheel, dashboard and doors. In “far-side impact crashes” the person on the far side is forced into the middle of the car, which has up until this point been unprotected. Such accidents account for 11 percent of crash fatalities.
With the new air system, the front center air bag provides a buffer between far-side occupants and the seat next to them. That reduces injury potential in two ways: Preventing the head from hitting the seat or person next to them, and keeping the body more or less in place, reducing the potential for other injuries. The air bag also helps secure the driver and passenger in the event of a rollover, which are rare but have a high mortality rate.
GM plans to begin installing the new air bag in some of its mid-size SUVs in 2013.