Mercedes-Benz unveiled yet another piece of safety tech for backseat passengers, an inflatable seat belt-mounted airbag dubbed the Beltbag. The Beltbag is aimed at reducing injury to rear-seat passengers in frontal impact collisions, the system likely will debut in the next S-class, which should arrive in the first half of 2013.

The Beltbag works much the same way as a traditional airbag. When the vehicle is involved in a crash, the airbag control unit sends a signal to the Beltbag telling the safety device it’s time to inflate. The Beltbag then fills the seat belt strap with gas, ballooning it up to nearly three times its standard width. Mercedes says the larger surface area provided by the inflated Beltbag distributes force better among the whole chest, reducing the chance of injury.

With its new Beltbag system, Mercedes has become the second automaker to add the safety tech to its vehicles; Ford was first, offering inflatable safety belts on the Explorer, before adding them to the Flex and Lincoln MKT.

Mercedes says Beltbag is not being considered for front-seat occupants, saying the airbags within the front compartment already provide sufficient protection.


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