By Drew Johnson
Thursday, Jan 13th, 2011 @ 4:33 pm
 
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today new regulations that will require the adoption of larger side curtain airbags. The new rules are intended to help prevent injuries and deaths related to rollover accidents.

Set to be phased in beginning in 2013 and fully mandated by 2018, the NHTSA says the new regulations will "reduce the number of people partially or completely ejected through side windows during rollover crashes."

"This new standard will help save lives and reduce injuries by requiring vehicles to have a safety system that keeps occupants in the vehicle in a rollover crash," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

Rollover crashes rank second behind frontal crashes in terms of total deaths, but a person involved in a rollover crash is 14 times more likely to die than a person involved in a frontal crash. Research shows that about 47 percent of people killed in rollover crashes during the last 10 years were completely ejected from the vehicle.

The new regulations are intended to keep occupants inside the vehicle during a rollover accident, which is estimated to prevent 373 deaths and 476 serious injuries per year. Applicable to vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less, the regulations will require "the equivalent of an unbelted adult from moving more than 4 inches past the side window opening in the event of a crash."

Costs associated with the regulations are relatively low, adding about $31 to the cost of a vehicle, or roughly $507 million by 2018.