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."