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Side Impact Crashes

Side impact crashes have become more severe and have killed an increasing number of people over the past decade due primarily to the rise in popularity of SUVs, which are aggressive in crashes.   In 2004, over 10,000 people died in vehicle crashes in which their vehicle was hit on the side. 

Many vehicles fail to protect occupants from the more severe crash forces seen in today’s side impact crashes.   In 2005, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released crash test results in which 14 out of 16 model year 2005 vehicles received the lowest rating of “poor” in a test that simulated being struck on the side by an SUV or pickup truck.   Only two vehicles, both equipped with optional side air bags, were rated “acceptable,” the second highest rating.

Learn more about side impact crashes

In July 2005, Congress passed the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), which requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a rule by July 1, 2008 to enhance protection in side impact crashes.  However, NHTSA’s history of anemic rulemakings coupled with a 2003 voluntary agreement among auto manufacturers to improve side impact protection may mean that the agency will not require side air bags in its forthcoming rule.  Congress should direct NHTSA to require side air bags that provide head protection in crashes and prevent ejection in rollovers in all vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less

    » autosafety | vehicles | safety | crash | sideimpact

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