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CAR CRASH PROTECTION

May 12, 2004

"Transportation officials urge higher standards for impact protection"

The U.S. Secretary of Transportation proposed a major regulatory upgrade in side-impact crash protection in all passenger vehicles. The proposal, which could become a rule as early as 2005, mandates head protection in side crashes, as well as enhances thorax and pelvis protection for a wider range of passengers in these vehicles.

If the proposal passes, a crash test dummy in the size of a small adult female would be used for the first time in side impact performance testing, which will also be altered to reflect real world side impact collisions in which head injuries are present. The male crash test dummy would also be updated.

The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which developed the upgrade, says that the proposed changes would save 700 to 1,000 lives each year, by preventing the brain injuries that have caused nearly 60 percent of all serious side-impact crash fatalities. The NHTSA claims that this proposal aims to "protect all sizes of people, whether they are hit by an SUV or a pickup truck, or run into a tree," the most common causes of auto accident fatalities.

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