DEARBORN, MI – Responding to the changing demographics of today’s driving population, Ford Motor Company is researching two advanced next-generation safety belt technologies that could help reduce the number of annual vehicle fatalities, which are at their lowest levels since 1994. One of Ford’s possible next-generation safety belts incorporates a four-point ‘belt and suspenders’ design in lieu of the familiar three-point safety belt, while a second possible future safety belt incorporates an airbag directly into the belt itself. “A number of technical challenges still need to be overcome before implementing these restraint systems,” said Dr. Priya Prasad, Ford Technical Fellow for Safety. “If we are successful in implementing these technologies, we will be redefining the nature of future occupant restraint systems.” Ford’s research into these new safety belt designs is being driven in part by the company’s desire to meet the needs of an aging driving population and their changing physiology, while improving the most effective safety technology in a vehicle — the safety belt.