The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration today suggested a new law that would require vehicles weighing more than 10,000 lbs. to utilize improved side airbags. The new safety feature would call for larger and stronger airbags that would reduce the chance of a passenger being thrown from a vehicle if involved in a rollover accident.
At a cost of approximately $34 extra per vehicle, the new airbags could save 402 lives annually. Aimed primarily at non-seatbelt-wearing motorists, the "ejection mitigation" device would be a step in reducing the 10,400 annual deaths resulting from rollovers.
Not only would the airbags need to be larger and stronger, but they would need to stay inflated for the duration of an accident. As it stands, Ford side curtain airbags remain inflated for 6 seconds while GM's stay filled for 5. Frontal airbags remain inflated for just .1 second.
The NTHSA has denied previous proposed solutions to prevent passenger ejection. An earlier idea that was turned down was a laminated glass design.
Implementation of the new safety feature, if approved, will go into effect for 2017 model years. A mandated 20-percent compliance rate would go into effect for 2014. Smaller automakers would receive some flexibility in the order.
Source: The Detroit News