The government will soon require automakers to install larger, stronger side-curtain air bags to keep drivers and passengers from being ejected during a rollover. The final regulation unveiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday will phase in starting in 2013, and cover all vehicles by 2018.
"This new standard will help save lives and reduce injuries by requiring vehicles to have a safety system that keeps occupants in the vehicle in a rollover crash," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.
On average, 47 percent of people killed in rollovers during the last decade were completely ejected from the vehicle, which raises the likelihood of death.
The new air bags will have to keep unbelted passengers in the vehicle even if the window is down, or destroyed in a crash.
The new rules apply to vehicles 10,000 pounds or less and require automakers to prevent "the equivalent of an unbelted adult from moving more than 4 inches past the side window opening in the event of a crash."
NHTSA said by 2018, the rule will save 373 traffic deaths and 476 serious injuries annually.
Automakers said they were reviewing the regulation.
Wade Newton of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the group representing Detroit's Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. and others, said, "We certainly agree with NHTSA's conclusion that head protecting/rollover airbags are the safest way keep people inside their vehicles when a rollover occurs.”
[via The Detroit News]
Photo courtesy of bugeater and re-used under the Creative Commons license.