Automakers must now deal with a new rule by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requiring passenger vehicles to keep all occupants of the vehicle inside during a rollover accident. The federal agency this week announced the new regulations, aimed at preventing serious injuries and fatalities resulting from ejections during a rollover.
Rollover accidents, although rare, account for approximately 30% of all accident fatalities in the country every year. The numbers of those fatalities have been declining because of the increased use of electronic stability control systems, which are designed to retain control over the vehicle.
The biggest threat to the occupants of a vehicle during a rollover is from complete or partial ejections from the vehicle. The NHTSA’s new rule is aimed at preventing ejections from the side window. Automakers are likely to use side window airbags to cushion passengers, and keep them inside the vehicle during a rollover. The side airbags will have rollover sensors that will trigger the airbags during a rollover accident. Automakers can also use special protected glass in order to prevent side window ejections.
The NHTSA expects all vehicles to have the so-called “ejection mitigation” systems by the year 2018. The cost of installing the system works out to about $31 per vehicle, or about $507 million for the entire auto industry.
However, as a Kansas City injury attorney, I believe that the expenses involved are minor compared to the kind of savings that result from fewer injuries and fatalities in rollovers. The kind of injuries that can result when a person is ejected from a vehicle during a rollover accident, are almost always life-threatening. I am talking about life-altering brain and spinal cord injuries and amputations here. These serious injuries can be avoided if ejections could be prevented.