October 31, 2002

GM’s new air bag passenger sensing system helps protect smaller front passengers

Detroit, Michigan – General Motors’ new passenger sensing system is designed to help protect children from potential injuries or fatalities in the event they are seated in front of an inflating frontal air bag.

The passenger sensing system, standard in about 1.6 million 2003 GM full-size pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles, is designed to turn off the passenger frontal air bag if it detects a rear-facing child seat, forward-facing child seat, booster seat child restraint or child in the front passenger seating position. It also is designed to turn off the air bag if no occupant is detected.

“The men and women who developed and implemented this system, many of whom are parents themselves, performed more than 3,000 tests and drew on nearly a decade of experience evaluating and developing passenger presence systems to ensure that the system would be reliable,” said Bill Kemp, GM executive director of safety strategy.

“However, even in vehicles equipped with the passenger sensing system, we urge all families to transport their children properly restrained in the rear seating position. In addition, we recommend that children 12 and under who outgrow child restraints ride in the back seat, properly restrained.”

GM’s passenger sensing system detects the level of pressure on the front passenger seat and the tension on the seat belt, two ways that help determine what kind of occupant may be present in the seat. Unlike air bag on/off switches that are manually activated, the new passenger sensing system is automatic, and a light on the rear-view mirror indicates the system status at all times.

In the event of a crash of sufficient severity, the right frontal air bag is designed not to deploy if the system detects pressure at or below what a six-year-old child in a booster seat produces, even when belted with up to 30 pounds of tension. (Child restraints produce more tension on a seat belt.)

The right frontal air bag is designed to deploy in a crash of sufficient severity if a person of adult size is sitting properly in the right front passenger’s seat.

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