The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced a new safety rule aimed at reducing the number of occupants ejected from vehicles in rollover crashes. Under the new rule, vehicle manufacturers must develop a countermeasure for cars and light trucks which prevents the equivalent of an unbelted adult from moving more than 4 inches past the side window opening in the event of a crash. To meet the standard manufacturers are expected to improve the strength, size and effectiveness of existing side-impact air bags.
In the government's press release announcing the new rule, Administrator David Strickland of NHTSA said, "Rollover crashes are the deadliest of all crash types and this is another important step in our efforts to reduce fatalities and serious injuries that result from them . . . When fully implemented, we believe this standard will prevent on average 373 fatalities and 476 serious injuries every year."
The new rule will begin to be phased in during 2013, and by 2018 all manufactured vehicles will be required to comply.
Meanwhile, the announcement came on a day when numerous rollover crashes were reported in Illinois and Wisconsin, including in Galesburg, Illinois, New Lisbon, Wisconsin and Madison, Wisconsin. In the Galesburg crash, it was reported that the driver and passengers were not ejected, and did not suffer serious injuries. However, in the New Lisbon crash it was reported that the driver was ejected and suffered life-threatening injuries. These incidents provide a perfect example of how the new rule will improve transportation safety and save lives.