Beginning 2013, car manufacturers will be required to find a way to prevent an unbelted adult from moving more than four inches past the side window in the event of a crash. All new vehicles under 10,000 pounds must institute this standard by the 2018 model year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says this will prevent nearly 400 fatalities and 500 serious injuries each year.
Between 2000 and 2009, 47 percent of people killed in rollover accidents were completely ejected from the vehicle. This was due in large part to a lack of seat belt use.
This new safety measure, aimed at protecting unbelted passengers, represents the final step in a line of safety initiatives begun in 2003. Previous measures include electronic stability control (ESC); reinforced, heavier-weight roofs that help prevent crushing; and side-curtain and torso air bags, which do a better job of guarding against head and upper-body injuries in these types of wrecks.
“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 of the NHTSA.