Making a safer vehicle has long been an area of major concern for both lawmakers and auto manufacturers. Despite safety enhancements made to vehicles, fatal car accidents still happen due to many different factors that may be preventable. Officials examine these accidents to learn how they can make changes in the law that will help to reduce the amount of accidents that occur.
Vehicle rollovers are one of the issues receiving greater focus from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Even with the implementation of electronic stability controls (computerized breaking of individual wheels), rollovers still happen frequently enough that the agency decided that greater action is required.
While rollovers may not be as common as front-end collisions, they are much more deadly. The NHTSA states that an individual in a rollover is 14 times more likely to die than someone in a frontal crash. The agency also cites to Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data reporting that if an individual was not completely ejected in a rollover, they were 64 percent less likely to die in one of these types of accidents.
The NHTSA has called for a new rule to be put in place that would force auto makers to take additional steps to protect occupants in the event of a rollover. Starting in 2013, the agency will require larger side-panel airbags in 25 percent of all vehicles being manufactured. These airbags will be mandatory in all specified vehicles by 2018.
By 2018, the agency hopes this will prevent 373 deaths and 476 injuries that occur in rollovers each year. The rule will apply to vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or less, which will impact most passenger vehicles, including cars and SUVs.
Despite the fact that most states have seat belt laws in effect, many of the injuries and deaths sustained in rollovers result because the victim was not buckled in at the time of the crash. This makes it much more likely for an ejection to result. The agency’s new rule is also designed for those who are not wearing their seat belt, as manufacturers will be asked to develop additional safety measures that will prevent someone inside the vehicle from being moved more than four inches outside of side window panels in a crash.