The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a new rule aimed at keeping passengers from being thrown from motor vehicles during a rollover accident. The new requirements will affect all new passenger vehicles and entail safety systems that ensure passengers will not eject out of a vehicle’s side windows in the event of a crash.
Motor vehicle manufacturers will have to develop their own systems that meet the new safety standards. The NTHSA offered some compliance suggestions to carmakers in their report, such as installing side airbags in vehicles that have rollover sensors. Another option would be to replace side windows with advanced safety glass.
Vehicle manufacturers have some time to develop their new safety systems. Stage one of the new safety requirements will began in 2013, and all new vehicles must comply with the passenger safety standards by September 1, 2018.
These changes will not be cheap. In fact, the agency estimation is that these additional safety features will cost about $507 million – around $1.2 to $1.7 million per life saved. The price of implementing these changes appears insignificant when faced with the number of lives lost each year due to being thrown from the vehicle in a car collision. These lives could have been saved with the right safety technology in place; a cost of $30 to $35 per vehicle for car manufacturers seems trivial when increasing safety and reducing injuries.
What are the Ejection Mitigation Requirements?The NHTSA’s ejection mitigation safety standards (49 CFR Parts 571 and 585) include some of the following requirements:
What Led to the Ejection Mitigation Rule?Rollover accidents may be more rare, but according to the NHTSA, these types of crashes cause the highest rate of accident fatalities each year. In fact, 10,000 people lost their lives per year due to rollover accidents in the past decade. The new safety standards are an important step in reducing the number serious injuries and deaths due to motor vehicle accidents. David Strickland, NHTSA administrator, announced, “When fully implemented, we believe this standard will prevent on average 373 fatalities and 476 serious injuries every year.”
Without these safety requirements, the NHTSA stated that passengers are 14 times more likely to die in a rollover accident, as compared to passengers involved in a head-on collision. The risk of death increases for passengers who are ejected from the car during an accident.
The agency’s new rule is an advancement in improving vehicle safety and protection passengers in the event of a rollover crash. The NHTSA has also recently issued other safety regulations, including an upgraded roof crush standard and back-up sensor requirements. Though accidents and injuries will still occur, these improvements are a step in the right direction.