The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced new side airbag regulations in January 2011 that are intended to reduce the number of people killed in rollover accidents in the United States. Each year, more than 10,000 people die in the 280,000 rollover crashes that occur in the U.S. According to the NHTSA, 64 percent of rollover deaths involve partial or complete ejection from the vehicle. Side airbags can block a person from being ejected through a vehicle’s windows. The new regulations will require vehicle manufacturers to improve the effectiveness of side airbags in preventing occupant ejection. If the improved side airbags successfully reduce the incidence of occupant ejection during rollover crashes, there should be a corresponding decrease in the number of rollover deaths.
Unfortunately, no regulation can prevent all traffic fatalities and injuries. If you or a loved one has been seriously hurt in a car wreck caused by a defective auto part or another driver’s recklessness, a qualified Atlantic City injury attorney can help.
What the NHTSA Hopes to Achieve
Rollover crashes remain one of the NHTSA’s top safety priorities. These accidents are responsible for 31 percent of all occupant deaths and 21 percent of all serious occupant injuries. Because ejection plays a role in the majority of rollover deaths, the NHTSA wants to “reduce the partial and complete ejection of vehicle occupants through side windows in crashes, particularly rollover crashes.” To achieve this goal, the NHTSA is requiring vehicle manufacturers to improve side airbags so that they will better cover window openings, which will make them more effective at preventing occupant ejection.
Although the improved side airbags will not eliminate rollover deaths altogether, the NHTSA estimates they will save 373 lives and prevent 476 serious injuries annually. The estimated cost of implementing the agency’s new “ejection mitigation” standards is about $31 per vehicle.
Being Made to Side Airbags
The NHTSA is requiring vehicle manufacturers to:
- Enlarge side curtain airbags
- Make them inflate longer
- Have them tether to the side pillars of a vehicle after inflation
The new regulations will be phased in beginning Sept. 1, 2013, and all vehicles must be in compliance by Sept. 1, 2017.
If you have been seriously injured in a rollover accident, or if your loved one was killed in one, contact an experienced Atlantic City injury lawyer today to learn about your legal rights and whether you may be entitled to compensation.