General Motors will introduce the industry’s first front center air bag, an inflatable restraint designed to help protect drivers and front passengers in far-side impact crashes where the affected occupant is on the opposite, non-struck side of the vehicle.
The front center air bag will be introduced on the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Chevrolet Traverse midsize crossovers in the 2013 model year. This new safety feature will be standard on Acadia and Traverse with power seats and all Enclaves.
The front center air bag deploys from the right side of the driver’s seat and positions itself between the front row seats near the center of the vehicle. This tethered, tubular air bag is designed to provide restraint during passenger-side crashes when the driver is the only front occupant, and also acts as an energy absorbing cushion between driver and front passenger in both driver- and passenger-side crashes. The air bag also is expected to provide benefit in rollovers.
GM analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System database, 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. These far-side fatalities, where the occupant is on the non-struck side of the vehicle, also represent 29 percent of all the belted front occupant fatalities in side impacts.