New Side Airbag Regulations Aimed at Reducing Deaths in Rollovers

New Side Airbag Regulations Aimed at Reducing Deaths in Rollovers

We can all feel a little safer in our vehicles, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced recently that automakers will be required to install larger side curtain airbags. These new airbags are a measure to help prevent injuries and deaths that may occur during a rollover accident.

We will start to see these new airbags in vehicles starting in 2013, with full implementation in 2018. According to NHTSA, they will help to curtail the number of people that are ejected through side windows in the event of a rollover.

Coming in second behind frontal crashes, rollovers can be deadly – if you’re involved in a rollover crash, you’re 14 times more likely to die than if you were in a frontal crash. And here are some more scary stats – in the last decade, 47% percent of people killed in rollover crashes were completely ejected from the vehicle.

“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,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The new airbag rules will apply to vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less. The costs that come with the new application are pretty low, so it will add about $31 to the price of a vehicle.

  • Mary Kay Kidwell

    NHTSA’s ruling is intended to protect vehicle occupants who refuse to wear seatbelts. Not wearing seatbelts is a conscious decision by the vehicle occupants; NHTSA’s own statistics have shown the great benefits of wearing seatbelts. While I agree that side air bags will save lives, it has been proven that stronger side window glass will render glass-breaking tools ineffective, thereby preventing escape during an entrapment situation. And now I’m concerned that “improved” side air bags will hamper escape thereby increasing entrapment fatalities.

    NHTSA’s suggestion of stronger side windows will doom the occupants of the 10,000 vehicles that go into a body of water each year to a horrible death. The majority of the survivors of these accidents escape through a window, many of which must be broken in order to allow escape. For years an average of 300 drowning deaths occur among occupants of vehicle immersion, as well as others who are victims of entrapment. These victims would survive if they were able to break a side window. Enhanced glass will trap them in a watery grave.

    My awareness of this issue began when my grandson drowned in his car three years ago. Since then I have researched vehicle immersion and consulted with experts around the world who all agree that immediate exit via a side window is crucial to survival. Being able to break the side window glass is essential, but if automakers follow NHTSA’s advice, everyone trapped in a vehicle will be prevented from escaping, and thereby surviving.

    My research shows that the majority of immersion survivors escaped through a window, in many cases by breaking the glass themselves or having help from a bystander. NHTSA has chosen to ignore me and other advocates, despite years of effort on the part of many concerned people. The glass industry has had NHTSA’s ear for a long time, and of course they would profit greatly from a change in auto glass requirements.
    Please contact me for more information and links to experts who have studied this issue for year and years (including Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht of Manitoba who has published his findings and demonstrated his immersion tests in videos that are available to the public). My web site also provides information, links, statistics, etc.: