Airbags are pieces of car equipment that we normally don’t think about until we’re in a crisis. They sit quietly inside the steering wheel or above the windows, and then one day they save our lives.
Luckily for us, automakers are constantly working to improve airbag technology. General Motors' 2013 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia have added a front center airbag, a first on the market. It is stored in the right side of the driver's seat. If there's a side collision on either side of the vehicle, this airbag inflates to create a cushion between driver and passenger. The airbag is also effective when the driver is the only occupant, GM says.
Although the federal government is not requiring this kind of airbag, one National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that 29 percent of deaths in side impact accidents were due to "far side" impact, in which the occupant is on the non-struck side of the vehicle. Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, says the technology “has real potential to save lives in side crashes.” GM expects that there may also be some benefit in rollover crashes.
The Buick Enclave has the front center airbag as standard equipment on all models. On the GMC Acadia, it's not available on the base SLE-1 but is standard on the other three models. On the Chevrolet Traverse, it's an option on the base LS model along with eight-way power seats, and it's standard on the other three models.