Large Truck Accidents | Featured Articles
September 25 2005 - NHTSA Safety Measures
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency that regulates new vehicles, continues to require safety features on cars and light trucks.
In addition to familiar mandatory safety gear such as seat belts and center high mounted brake lights, many 2006 models come with tire pressure monitors, or TPMs.
Born of the Firestone tire failures, mainly on Ford vehicles, in 2000, the TPMs must illuminate a dashboard light if any tire falls at least 25 percent below the recommended cold-inflation pressure.
Manufacturers must install TPMs on 20 percent of 2006 models, 70 percent of 2007 models and all 2008 vehicles. Many automakers began installing them earlier.
NHTSA estimates that the devices will save 120 lives and prevent 8,400 injuries annually once all vehicles have them. NHTSA says it will cost manufacturers $50 to $70 per vehicle. The automakers are mum on what that adds to the price of a car.
All cars and light trucks have come with dual front air bags since the 1999 model year. For 2006, all models must have advanced air bags with sensors that can reduce deployment force based on the size and weight of the occupant or turn off the air bag if a seat is empty.
Advanced air bags arose from dozens of deaths and injuries to children and small adults from air-bag deployments in the late 1990s. Their three-year phase in started with 2004 models.
Also due on 2009 models are power window switches that have to be pulled to close windows to prevent deaths and injuries to children.
On vehicles with switches that are pushed, children can accidentally close windows while they are leaning out. NHTSA says most vehicles already comply and costs are “negligible” because manufacturers can make changes in the normal redesign of cars.
There’s also a controversial provision that a manufacturer can’t be sued for product liability if its vehicles meet the standard.
NHTSA spokesman Eric Bolton said a new roof standard probably won’t take effect until the 2009 model year or later.
But Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said the group believes the new roof regulations would have “modest benefit” because many of the large SUVs already meet them.
“It’s not clear how much this is going to really improve the situation,” Rader said.
Rader added that that in two-thirds of rollover deaths, the victims aren’t wearing seat belts. “A new roof crush standard is not going to help in those cases.”
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