Airbag design has progressed a long way since the early 1990’s, when dash-mounted units were the only secondary restraint systems available. In the intervening two decades forward airbags have gained multi-stage capability and a host of new airbag location points have sprung up in vehicle passenger compartments. It is no longer uncommon for airbags to be found attached to the side of seats or nestled inside A-pillars in order to protect heads and torsos from side impacts.
The latest development in airbag design has been unveiled by the Takata Corporation, a Japanese safety systems manufacturer. Called the Takata “Airbelt,” the new protective device is essentially what it sounds like – an inflatable seatbelt that takes the place of traditional automobile seat belts.
A few months ago we posted an article about the 10 most outrageous truck quality problems of the last decade. In that article, we mentioned that some F150 owners had complained about exploding airbags. According to some 2005-2007 F150 owners, the driver’s airbag went off the minute the key was put into the ignition. While there are definitely some humorous aspects to this concept (talk about a bad way to start the day), it’s a serious issue. So serious, in fact, that NHTSA has expanded their investigation into these complaints.
As part of their decision to expand the investigation into the F150, NHTSA has released documents showing that a little more than 1.5 million F150’s made between 2004 and 2006 could have this problem.