Ford, GM announce new child safety plans
Web posted at: 8:43 p.m. EST (0143 GMT)
DEARBORN, Michigan (CNN) -- Ford and General Motors announced plans Thursday to install an improved latching system for child safety seats and "smart" air bags that can detect electronically whether a passenger is a child or a small adult.
Ford is set to add a new child safety seat latching mechanism aimed at preventing the improper installation of child safety seats. The mechanism incorporates a rigid metal latch that connects directly to the rear seat of the vehicle.
According to Lou Camp, director of Ford's Automotive Safety Office, the seat is placed directly onto the rear car or truck seat and connects directly to the latches.
A strap connects the back of the safety seat to the vehicle's back seat to keep the safety seat from tipping forward.
Camp told CNN the system will be available in the United States and Canada beginning with the Windstar minivan and the new Ford Focus this fall and will be phased into Ford's entire product line over five years.
He said the latch system will be standard equipment at no extra charge to Ford buyers. New child safety seats that lock on to the latches will have to be purchased.
GM announced Thursday that it will introduce a "smart" air bag system next year that will use electronic sensors to detect whether the occupant of the front passenger seat is a small adult or a child.
The system will use electronic sensors to detect whether or not the occupant in the front-passenger seat is a small adult or child in a safety seat.
If the sensor detects a child in the a safety seat, the air bag won't deploy. If the sensor detects a small adult, the person's weight will determine if it deploys.
The air bag system will be installed on the Cadillac Seville beginning next year. Ford announced a similar system in January but has not said in which vehicles it will be installed.
The announcements came the same day as a report by the National Safe Kids Campaign, which found 85 percent of U.S. parents don't know the right way to install and use child car seats.
Correspondent Ed Garsten contributed to this report.
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