New seatbelt may save passengers from drowning
Salt pill dissolves when the buckle is submerged in water, to automatically release the latch.
While automakers have added all manner of high-tech safety features designed to help avoid or lessen the impact on occupants during a car accident, seatbelts haven’t changed much since the 3-point harness was introduced by Volvo in 1959. But that’s changing, even for drivers and passengers who suddenly find themselves underwater.
About 400 U.S. motorists die each year due to drowning accidents when their car plunges into water and they become trapped by seatbelts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Dutch manufacturer Fijen TMLS is hoping to reduce that statistic with its Escape Belt, which includes a mechanism that automatically releases the belt when it becomes submerged in water.
Inside the female latch of the Escape Belt is a salt pill that dissolves when the buckle is submerged, triggering the male hammer-release to activate and disconnect the buckle. The buckle won’t inadvertently release if liquid is spilled on it, according to the Fijen TMLS, and the pill cartridge needs to be replaced every few years.
While it may be a few years before we see the Escape Belt installed in cars, other automakers are refining seatbelt technology. Ford recently introduced rear-passenger seatbelt airbags, for example, and Mercedes-Benz will offer a similar feature on its 2014 S-Class models, along with illuminated and motorized buckles that make fastening seatbelts much easier.
Autoliv, the inventor of the original Volvo seatbelt, supplies a new 3+2 belt design for Renault in Europe that’s designed to cover the “open side” of the traditional three-point seatbelt to provide better protection to passengers in a side impact.
Here's a quick demo of Fijen's new ejecting buckles:
[Source: Wired Autopia]
What would appen if you left the sun roof open and it rained during the night.
I have seen it happen, not calling for rain and while you are asleep it does.
a salt tablet, that would be great in places like, FL. Just how many high humidity days will that pill be able to handle before rendering the seatbelt useless and setting the owner up for a fine.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org.