NHTSA Proposes Standard be Developed to Reduce Passenger
Ejections Through Sidelites
December 1, 2009
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has
submitted a proposal of rulemaking to develop a new Federal Motor
Vehicle Safety Standard No. 226 to reduce the partial and complete
ejection of vehicle occupants through sidelites in crashes in rollover
The 167-page proposal was submitted to the Office of the Federal
Register early this morning and could require manufacturers to meet
the standard "by modifying existing side impact air bag curtains,
and possibly supplementing them with advanced laminated glazing,"
according to the proposal.
"The curtains would be made larger so that they cover more
of the window opening, made more robust to remain inflated longer,
and made to deploy in both side impacts and in rollovers,"
writes NHTSA. "In addition, they would be tethered or otherwise
to keep the impactor within the vehicle."
Though NHTSA notes that it initially looked at laminated sidelites
in vehicles to mitigate ejections from sidelites, it moved away
from this method in 2002, "after observing that advanced glazing
appeared to increase the risk of neck injury by producing higher
neck shear loads and neck moments than impacts into tempered side
glazing." It also determined this might be very costly.
"Moreover, because side curtain air bags were showing potential
as an ejection mitigation countermeasure, NHTSA redirected its research
and rulemaking efforts toward developing performance-based test
procedures for an ejection mitigation standard," writes NHTSA.
Based on this, NHTSA is proposing a test "that requires ejection
mitigation curtains to retain an impactor such that its displacement
is limited to a specified distance outside of the window."
In developing the proposed standard, NHTSA says it looked at data
from 1997 through 2005 and found that the majority of occupant injuries
and fatalities by ejection from vehicles were from sidelites; during
this period, NHTSA estimates that 23,624 were injured by ejection
from sidelites, while 6,174 were killed. Likewise, NHTSA cites 3,488
injuries from ejection through windshields, along with 1,155 deaths.
The NHTSA will begin collecting public comments on the rule once
it is published in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for
tomorrow, December 2, according to the announcement. (CLICK
HERE to view the full proposal.)
Comments can be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov; by mail
to Docket Management Facility: U.S. Department of Transportation,
1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140,
Washington, D.C. 20590-0001; by hand delivery to the above address;
or by fax to 202/493-2251. Docket No. NHTSA-2009-0183 must be referenced.
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