Feds toughen vehicle side-impact standards

May 12, 2004 at 5:51 PM

WASHINGTON, May 12 (UPI) -- Federal auto safety regulators Wednesday proposed upgrading side-impact crash protection and testing for all passenger vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says requiring automakers to provide head protection in side crashes could save an estimated 700 to 1,000 lives a year. Side airbags would provide greater protection of the thorax and pelvis areas of vehicle occupants in such crashes.

Next year, NHTSA will begin using a crash test dummy representing a small 4-foot-11 inch adult female in side-impact performance testing and a new, advanced dummy representing a male of average height.

"We expect that this rigorous requirement will spur the introduction of a comprehensive array of technologies for side-impact protection," said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Jeffrey Runge. "The proposal represents a major step toward safer vehicles. Our goal is to protect all sizes of people, whether they are hit by an SUV or a pickup truck, or run into a tree."

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