The paper presents a simulation methodology created to support an integrated safety system development process which was tested for the side impact collision load case. The methodology is based on the coupled and complementary use of two software packages: PreScan and Madymo. PreScan was utilized for designing two traffic scenarios and the sensing and control systems for the side collision recognition, while Madymo was utilized for assessing the effects of pre-crash deployment of thorax airbag. The collision conditions from the scenarios were used as input to define a Madymo side collision model of the host vehicle and to investigate and optimize several airbag deployment parameters: pre-crash deployment time, airbag permeability, vent hole size and vent hole opening time. Results showed that the best system configuration to reduce occupant injuries is achieved when the airbag is deployed in the pre-crash phase to push away the driver from the intrusion zone in the first phase of the crash. Then a delayed vent hole opening softly separates the driver from the contact with the door structure when it intrudes. The proposed deployment strategy led to reduction of rib deflection and VC injury measures of 20% and 50% respectively, showing the potential of integrating active and passive safety methodologies to improve the occupant protection in case of side collisions.