A new federal standard for vehicles will help reduce the number of people ejected through side windows during rollover crashes, good news for Volusia County, which was one of the top six counties in Florida for rollover crash fatalities in 2009.
Under the new rule, issued this month by the Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), vehicle manufacturers must develop a countermeasure for light passenger vehicles under 10,000 pounds that prevents the equivalent of an unbelted adult from moving more than 4 inches past the side window opening in the event of a crash. The new standard will begin phasing in during 2013 — all newly manufactured vehicles will be required to provide this protection by model year 2018.
“Safety is our highest priority,” said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a press release. “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.”
From 2001 to 2007, there were more than 10,000 deaths in light vehicle rollover crashes in America, according to the NHTSA. Rollover deaths decreased slightly in 2008 (9,043) and 2009 (8,267), as have fatalities in all crash types.
In Florida, between 2005 and 2009, there were 2,230 people killed in rollover crashes and 56,390 injured, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safetay and Motor Vehicles. In 2009, fatalities from rollover crashes dropped by almost 27 percent to 174, down from
238 in 2008.
Volusia County was one of six counties in Florida that accounted for 46 percent, or 80 of the 174 killed in rollover crashes in 2009. Polk County had the highest number that year at 18, followed by Broward, 17, Duval, 13, Volusia and Miami-Dade at 11 each, and Palm Beach with 10. Rollover crash fatalities in Volusia continued to climb between 2005 and 2007 with 16, 22 and 28, respectively for those three years. That number dropped to 5 in 2008 before going up to 11 in 2009.
This final rule enhances the side curtain air bag systems installed pursuant to previous standards. Side curtain air bags will be made larger to cover more of the window opening, more robust to remain inflated longer, enhanced to deploy in side impacts and in rollovers, and made not only to cushion but also made sufficiently strong to keep an occupant from being fully or partially ejected through a side window.
“Rollover crashes are the deadliest of all crash types and this is another important step in our efforts to reduce fatalities and serious injuries that result from them,” said David Strickland, of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in a press release. “When fully implemented, we believe this standard will prevent on average 373 fatalities and 476 serious injuries every year.”
Officials say seatbelt use is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of injury or death in a rollover. In Florida, 65 percent of drivers killed in passenger vehicle rollover crashes in 2009 were not wearing seatbelts and 68 percent of passengers killed were not wearing
For more on traffic safety issues, see the Car Accident library articles by Daytona Beach personal injury lawyer.