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New Side Air Bag Regulation Aims to Save Lives

As part of its mission to prevent deaths related to rollovers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently announced the approval of the regulation that aims to increase safety standards through compeling automakers to install better side airbags, particularly for vehicles 10,000 pounds or less.  The first phase of implementation will begin in 2013, while all vehicles are expected to be covered by 2018.

Based on expert studies, rollovers are one of the leading causes of vehicle-related deaths.  In 1999 alone, over 8,000 fatalities were caused by rollovers, and about 47% of those are killed by being ejected after the crashes. 

Through this proposal, the government wants to prevent the chance of drivers and passengers being ejected during a rollover.  With bigger airbags, there will be more coverage to the window opening, and since they will also have stronger quality, they will remain inflated longer and keep the passenger from being ejected through the side windows.  Moreover, this regulation is one of the most inexpensive ones for automakers and buyers, as it will add only an estimated $31 per vehicle. 

Automakers are currently reviewing the regulation; however, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has already expressed their support to this regulation.  Representing Detroit’s Big Three, Toyota, and other

top automakers, Wade Newton said “We certainly agree with NHTSA’s conclusion that head protecting/rollover airbags are the safest way keep people inside their vehicles when a rollover occurs.”

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