NHTSA Proposes Stronger Side Airbag Standards to Save Lives in Rollover Accidents
As Atlanta personal injury lawyers, we have had our complaints about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the slowness with which the agency reacts to urgent safety issues. However, we will also be the first to admit that the agency has done some stellar work recently, especially in the field of rollover crash prevention and minimizing injuries from these crashes.
Earlier this year, the agency announced that it would be requiring automakers to comply with stronger roof strength standards, o prevent the kind of injuries and deaths that result from roof collapses in a rollover. The agency has also been quick to catch on to the importance of devices like Electronic Stability Control technologies that can help prevent rollover crashes. Now, the agency is proposing stronger side airbag standards that will prevent the risk of side window ejections during a rollover. According to the Washington Post, the NHTSA could require automakers to install stronger side airbags that will prevent ejections even if passengers are not wearing seatbelts.
Rollover accidents are a somewhat recent phenomenon that peaked with the introduction of SUVs on our roads. These vehicles, along with pickups and vans, are more likely to be involved in rollover crashes. In 2002, more than 10,600 people died in rollover accidents. The number of people dying in these accidents has declined in the past few years, especially as more cars now come equipped with Electronic Stability Control systems that prevent rollovers.
However, the NHTSA wants to bring those numbers down further. According to its data, every year 6,400 people die when they are ejected from the side window during a rollover. It’s these lives the agency wants to save with its new standards. Currently, many vehicles come with side airbags, but these don’t comply with the NHTSA’s proposed stronger new standards.
While there is little that can be done to suppress the public preference for sports utility vehicles and light pickup trucks, we can work to equip these vehicles with safety devices that enhance the occupants’ risks of surviving a rollover.