New Side Airbag Regulations May Reduce Rollover Deaths

Last January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) unveiled new side airbag regulations aimed at reducing rollover deaths. Side airbags not only protect occupants from serious injury within the vehicle during a car crash, they also minimize the risk of occupants being ejected through the vehicle’s windows in the event it rolls over. Rollover crashes claim more than 10,000 lives each year in the United States, and occupant ejection accounts for a significant portion of those deaths. In fact, according to the NHTSA, 64 percent of rollover deaths involve partial or complete ejection. Therefore, if the new side airbag regulations successfully reduce occupant ejection, then, theoretically, we should see a reduction in rollover deaths as well.

Improvements in vehicle safety equipment certainly save lives, but unfortunately, these measures do not save all lives. If someone else’s negligence or recklessness caused a car crash that claimed the life of your loved one, discuss your wrongful death case with a compassionate Sarasota injury attorney today.

A Closer Look at the Regulations

The new side airbag regulations are set to be phased in starting Sept. 1, 2013, and all cars will be required to meet these “ejection mitigation” standards by Sept. 1, 2017. To comply with the new regulations, car manufacturers will be:

  • Enlarging side curtain airbags
  • Making side curtain airbags inflate longer
  • Manufacturing side curtain airbags so that they tether to the side pillars of a vehicle after inflation

The improved side airbags will better cover window openings to keep occupants from being launched out of a window during a crash. As the NHTSA describes the new regulations, they are intended to “reduce the partial and complete ejection of vehicle occupants through side windows in crashes, particularly rollover crashes.” The improved airbags will not eliminate rollover deaths, but the NHTSA is confident they will reduce the number of people killed in rollover crashes each year. The agency expects 373 lives will be saved and 476 serious injuries will be prevented annually in the U.S. Implementing the new regulations is expected to cost about $31 per vehicle, which seems a small price to pay for hundreds of lives saved every year.

In the U.S., there are more than 280,000 reported rollover accidents annually. If you or a loved one was injured in a rollover crash that was caused by another driver’s recklessness or by a defective product, contact an experienced Sarasota injury lawyer today to ensure your rights are protected.