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New Rule to Reduce Auto Rollover Deaths

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a final rule aimed at decreasing occupant ejections in passenger vehicles. The new U.S. Department of Transportation standard, which will help reduce the number of people partially or completely ejected through side windows during rollover crashes, will begin phasing in during 2013.

"Rollover crashes are the deadliest of all crash types and this is another important step in our efforts to reduce fatalities and serious injuries that result from them," said Administrator David Strickland, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "When fully implemented, we believe this standard will prevent on average 373 fatalities and 476 serious injuries every year."

Under the new rule, issued by the Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), vehicle manufacturers must develop a countermeasure for light passenger vehicles under 10,000 lbs that prevents the equivalent of an unbelted adult from moving more than 4 inches past the side window opening in the event of a crash. The new standard will begin phasing in during 2013 -- all newly manufactured vehicles will be required to provide this protection by model year 2018.

Today's announcement is part of NHTSA's initiative to improve the overall safety for occupants in the event of a rollover crash. Previously, the agency issued rules requiring that all new vehicles come equipped with electronic stability control (ESC) to keep vehicles from losing control and also upgraded its roof crush standard to keep the occupant compartment intact.

The agency estimates that when all vehicles (other than motorcycles) under 4,536 kg GVWR have ESC systems, the number of deaths each year resulting from rollover crashes would be reduced by 4,200 to 5,500. From 2001 to 2007, there were more than 10,000 deaths in light vehicle rollover crashes. Rollover deaths have decreased slightly in 2008 (9,043) and 2009 (8,267), as have fatalities in all crash types.

Source: NHTSA News Release – Jan 13, 2011


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