December 17, 2004

Brain Injury Association lauds NHTSA for vehicle safety leadership

Brighton, Michigan – Recent rulings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will contribute to thousands of lives saved and billions of dollars in reduced health care and related costs, according to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan.

“NHTSA has, in particular, demonstrated bold leadership in upgrading a number of vehicle restraint standards,” said Michael Dabbs, president of the Brighton-based non-profit association.

Dabbs cited three NHTSA initiatives – two final rulings and a notice of proposed rulemaking – that the Brain Injury Association of Michigan says advances the safety standards for vehicles.

The first ruling, finalized on Dec. 7, 2004, upgrades NHTSA’s head restraint standard in order to reduce whiplash injuries in rear collisions. Under the new standard, which becomes mandatory for all vehicles manufactured on or after Sept. 1, 2008, a higher minimum height requirement is established. The ruling also limits the distance between the back of an occupant’s head and the head restraint as well as the size of gaps and openings within head restraints. In addition, the ruling establishes new strength and dynamic compliance requirements and tightens most existing test procedures while establishing requirements for head restraints voluntarily installed in rear outboard designated seating positions.

A second ruling, issued on Dec. 8, 2004, adopts a NHTSA proposal to require all designated seating positions in rear seats (other than side-facing seats) to be equipped with integral lap/shoulder safety belts. The new requirement would come into effect on vehicles manufactured after Sept. 1, 2005.

Perhaps even more significant long-term is a NHTSA proposed rule that substantially upgrades the side impact protection standard. The proposal would require all passenger vehicles less than 10,000 pounds to be equipped with front seat side impact protection.

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