Sustainability 2011/12

Vehicle Safety

Post-Crash/Injury Mitigation Technologies

One method of assisting emergency responders to reach the scene of a vehicle crash quickly is through in-vehicle emergency call systems, also called post-crash notification. These systems can help occupants to summon assistance in an urgent situation.

In the U.S., Ford SYNC® is an award-winning, in-car connectivity system introduced on certain 2007 model year vehicles. Beginning with the 2009 model year, SYNC-equipped vehicles come with an occupant communications capability called SYNC 911 Assist, Ford’s in-car, non-subscription call-for-help system. In the event of a severe crash, the ability to directly contact the local 911 emergency operator could be critical, for both the vehicle occupants and first responders. While any cell phone alone could be used in an emergency situation, SYNC can assist in placing a call to a local 911 emergency operator – when a phone is properly paired, turned on and connected to SYNC and where the system and cell phone remain powered and undamaged – should a crash with an air bag deployment or fuel shutoff switch activation occur. The key advantage of SYNC 911 Assist is speed, as calls are placed directly to local 911 operators and do not have to be routed through a call center (as in competitors’ versions), which can delay the time it takes to get help on the way. SYNC 911 Assist gives the occupants a choice as to whether or not to make the emergency call, and places the call if the occupant does not respond after a short time.

In November 2011, Ford participated in discussions with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, other automobile manufacturers and government agencies on future directions for advanced automatic crash notification systems. Ford presented information about the next generation of SYNC 911 Assist, which will include the ability to communicate additional information to 911 operators such as the impact velocity of the vehicle, which is highly correlated to the probability of serious injury.

In Europe, beginning in 2012 with the new B-MAX, Ford will offer SYNC with Emergency Assistance, a system similar to SYNC 911 Assist. Ford worked with the European Emergency Number Association (EENA) to develop Emergency Assistance and gained valuable input into the system’s design. The EENA aims to ensure a consistently high level of response to 112 emergency calls across Europe. Emergency Assistance alerts local emergency services operators after an accident, in the correct language for the region. It will be available in more than 30 countries across Europe and beyond.

The SOS-Post Crash Alert System, which is standard equipment on most Ford and Lincoln vehicles, is another advance in post-crash safety technology. The SOS-Post Crash Alert System automatically activates the horn and emergency flashers in the event of an air bag deployment or safety belt pre-tensioner activation. The second-generation system – introduced in the 2011 model year – also is designed to automatically unlock vehicle doors subsequent to an air bag deployment or safety belt pre-tensioner activation, to aid in rescue. The system is designed to alert passersby and emergency services to the vehicle’s location.