According to data released by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, there were 8,267 deaths related to rollover crashes in 2009. The Safety Administration has now issued rules requiring better safety features designed prevent occupants from being ejected from side windows during rollover crashes.
The new safety rules are part of the administration’s overall effort to reduce the risk to vehicle occupants in rollover crashes, which are recognized as the deadliest of motor vehicle accidents. Experts believe the new standards will likely be implemented by modifying side-impact air bag curtains so that they cover a greater area of the window, remain inflated longer, and deploy not only in side impacts but also in rollovers.
Vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less will be expected to implement the safety features, which require manufacturers to ensure that an adult occupant not wearing a seatbelt will not move more than 4 inches past the side window during a crash.
As part of the effort to improve vehicle safety in rollover crashes, the administration has previously passed measures requiring electronic stability control in new vehicles and stricter safety standards to prevent vehicle roofs from crushing.
The administration expects that the new safety features, once implemented, will prevent 376 people from death and 476 people from serious injury each year.
The Department of Transportation will begin to phase in the new standards in 2013, and they are expected to be fully implemented by 2018.
But some feel the new safety standards will bring little benefits, and that they are not as effective as simply enforcing existing seatbelt laws, preventing driver distraction, and looking into standards that would protect drivers of small vehicles who collide with vehicles that are larger and heavier.
Source: USA Today, “Feds Issue rule to cut deaths in rollover crashes,” Larry Copeland, 13 Jan 2011.