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Ford makes seatbelt airbag mashup

New seatbelts by Ford inflate during a collision.

Inflatable seatbelt
Ford's inflatable seat belts are designed for the rear seat. Ford

Ford announced a new seat belt innovation on Thursday: seat belts that inflate during a collision. Designed for rear-seat passengers, Ford claims the new seat belts spread collision force over five times the area of a traditional seat belt when inflated. In a crash, the seat belts limit head and neck movement, which should reduce injury.

Ford also says the extra bulk of these seat belts gives them a padded feeling, making them more comfortable, so rear-seat passengers are more likely to wear them. Current usage statistics show that 82 percent of front seat occupants wear seat belts, but only 61 percent of rear seat passengers wear them.

These inflatable seat belts will be included in the next update to the Ford Explorer, with other Ford vehicles following.