The inflating rear seatbelts first introduced with the 2011 Ford Explorer are finally trickling down to other vehicles. In a release, Ford stated that the 2013 Ford Flex and some yet to be named Lincoln vehicles will be installed with the safety technology by this summer.
While the company specifically mentioned the Ford Flex, the identities of the Lincoln vehicles adding the technology remains unknown. The three-row luxury crossover 2013 Lincoln MKT and MKS sedan seem to be likely candidates as they share some structural pieces with the Ford Flex.
Currently, inflatable belts can only be optioned for the 2011 Ford Explorer's second-row seat. When a collision is detected, the seat belts inflate just like a front, side or curtain airbag. The belts can more effectively cushion the occupant with the combined effect of the expanding belt's greater surface area and the impact-absorbing pocket of air.
The inflatable seatbelts are also apparently more comfortable and softer than conventional belts. The comfort factor may one day play a role in improving rear-seat seatbelt usage in the U.S., Ford hopes. Today rear seaters are belted in 61 percent of the time, versus 82 percent of front-seaters, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.