The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established a new safety standard intended to prevent occupants from being ejected through side windows during a vehicle rollover or side-impact crash. Vehicle manufacturers will have flexibility in determining how to meet the standard’s performance requirements. Anticipated automaker alternatives include using advanced window glazing, making side airbags larger and more robust or tethering side airbags to the base of the vehicle’s pillars.
The new safety standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 226, will be phased-in over a four-year period beginning in 2013. Manufacturers of altered vehicles and vehicles produced in multiple stages are given more time to comply. The rule applies to all vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs. or less.
The safety standard was required under a 2005 law intended to reduce deaths and injuries associated with rollover and side-impact crashes. The same law spurred other NHTSA safety rules, including installation of electronic stability control systems and side air bags and strengthening of the roof crush standard. While the rule only applies to new-vehicle manufacturers, it is nevertheless illegal to market a product that does not conform to an applicable FMVSS or would take a vehicle out-of-compliance with a safety standard (“make inoperative”).
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