Rollover accidents are among the most dangerous types of automobile accidents. Although they are not the most common type of accident, they have been responsible for one-third of all automobile fatalities and 10,000 deaths each year over the past decade, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Many SUVs are especially vulnerable to rollover accidents. This is due to the high center of gravity of SUVs and certain design flaws and defective automobile parts. This week, the NHTSA announced new regulations designed to prevent rollover deaths in vehicles.
One of the main reasons rollover accidents are so dangerous is that rollover accidents often result in a driver or passenger being thrown, or ejected, from a vehicle. About half of the people who are killed in a rollover accident are ejected from the vehicle and most are ejected from a side window.
Some SUVs already have side airbags that are designed to inflate during a rollover accident and remain inflated to prevent people from being thrown out of the windows. The NHTSA’s new regulation will phase in “ejection mitigation” systems over the next few years, and all new vehicles will be required to have them by 2018.
The NHTSA believes most automakers will chose to include side or curtain airbags that have rollover sensing technology in order to comply with the new requirements, but automakers may also use advanced safety glass in windows. The NHTSA estimates that the new standard will prevent 373 fatalities and 476 serious injuries each year, on average.
CNN, “Automakers face tough new rollover-crash rule,” Peter Valdes-Dapena, 1/13/2011
Reuters, “Automakers must reduce rollover ejections: U.S. government,” John Crawley, 1/13/2011