A rule that requires automakers to take steps to prevent passengers from being ejected from side windows in rollover crashes will be phased in starting 2013, according to a statement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. U.S. auto-safety regulators will require these anti-ejection measures for all cars sold in the U.S.
The new vehicles must meet the standard by model year 2018. These changes will cost $31 per vehicle, or $507 million annually.
The NHTSA claims that the measures may save 373 lives a year by making it more likely that people will stay inside vehicles that crash.
About 47% of people killed in rollover crashes are ejected from vehicles. NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said that rollover crashes are the “deadliest” of all crash types. He said that this is just one step in the agency’s efforts to lessen fatalities and serious injuries that result from them.
The NHTSA statement didn’t state how manufacturers will meet the mandate but the likely options include window glazing to prevent shattering in crashes, and side-curtain air bags. Air bag manufacturers include Continental AG, TRW Automotive Holdings Corp., Autoliv Inc. and Johnson Controls Inc.
The NHTSA said that 10,000 people a year have died in passenger-vehicle rollover crashes in the past decade. It also said that the number of rollover deaths decreased in 2009 to 8,267. Aside from the lives saved, NHTSA also estimated 476 “serious” injuries will be prevented each year.