Ford has launched a new seatbelt that inflates like an airbag.
In the event of an accident, the rear-fitted seatbelt uses airbag technology to inflate and expand around a traditional seatbelt.
It is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for vulnerable rear-seat passengers, such as children and older occupants.
In the US only for now
The system will go on sale in US from next year. However, Ford says that 'over time' it plans to extend the use of the inflatable seatbelt technology throughout its global product range.
Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president of sustainability, environmental and safety engineering, said: 'Ford's rear inflatable seatbelt technology will enhance safety for rear-seat passengers of all ages, especially for young children who are more vulnerable in crashes.
'This is another unique family technology that builds on our safety leadership, including the most top safety ratings of any car maker.'
Seatbelt spreads the impact
The inflatable seatbelts are designed to inflate within 40 milliseconds after a crash and to expand over the occupant's torso and shoulder.
In everyday use the inflatable seatbelts operate like conventional 'belts and are compatible with child seats and infant booster seats.
However, in the event of a collision, the inflated seatbelt distributes energy across five times more of the occupant's torso than a traditional 'belt. After deployment, the seatbelt remains inflated for several seconds before dispersing its air through the pores of the airbag.