In advanced frontal air bag systems, the electronic control unit utilizes additional data input to determine with what level of power, and even IF, the driver frontal air bag or passenger frontal air bag will inflate.

Advanced air bag deployment determinations are based on the system's design and sensor inputs, which typically include:

  • Size or weight of an occupant
  • Whether the occupant is wearing a seat belt
  • How far back the occupant's seat track is set
  • Severity of the crash

Please see Frontal Air Bags - Cautions for more on advanced frontal air bags.

As of 2008, advanced frontal air bag systems in the U.S. vehicle fleet include systems that use:

  • All-suppression strategies
  • A combination of suppression and low-risk deployment strategies
  • All low-risk deployment strategies

Systems using suppression strategies are tested for air bag activation using a dummy that weighs approximately 108 lbs. However, consumers should be aware that specific weight settings for suppression-based air bag systems may vary.

It's also important for consumers to keep in mind that proper operation of some advanced frontal air bag systems is highly dependent on the pressure (also known as "loading") placed on the seat bottom by the occupant - and that a number of situations can result in occupant misclassification.

Additional technologies are becoming available to help advanced frontal air bag systems more accurately classify vehicle occupants. These include pattern recognition, optical, infrared, ultrasonic, and electric field sensor technologies.