Ford Motor Co. will equip some of its sport-utilities with side airbag curtains in the 2001 model year. The curtains, large air-inflated pillows that deploy from the roof to cover the side body pillars and glass, are designed to prevent head injuries during side impacts and rollovers. The curtains are controlled by a sensor that monitors the tilt of the vehicle and the speed of the rollover. Once a rollover is sensed, the curtain deploys using a new type of 'cold air' inflator, which allows the bags to stay inflated longer than conventional airbags. Ford's Helen Petrauskas demonstrates the system at the Detroit auto show. 'Fifty percent of light-truck fatalities involve a rollover, vs. 25 percent for passenger cars,' she said. Ford would not say which vehicle will have the curtains first, but the automaker expects all of its sport-utilities to have them by 2005.
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