Vauxhall is to offer full-size curtain airbags as optional equipment in Corsa, Astra and Zafira from the autumn. Similar safety upgrades will become available in other models later in the year.
The manufacturer says the decision to introduce curtain 'bags in best-selling models first is part of its strategy of making practical, modern technology available to as many customers as possible at affordable prices.
The system, which complements side airbags, is fitted in a plastic tube along the full length of the headliner (Zafira: first and second seating rows), and the gas inflation generator is in the rear section of the headliner. Both curtain and side airbags are controlled by a single control device which is triggered by sensors integrated in the sides of the vehicle.
In a typical lateral impact, the side airbag deploys first, within 10 milliseconds, to protect the chest, and 10 to 15 milliseconds later, the head is cushioned by the 150 millimetre thick curtain of air.
Prices will be announced shortly.