Maryland Rollover Accident Update: New NHTSA Rule Looks to Reduce Occupants Ejected During Automobile Crashes

Read almost any news story covering a serious rollover accident in Maryland or Washington, D.C., and you will likely learn about a victim who was killed or critically injured as a result of the traffic accident. Drivers who attempt maneuvers at high speeds in a sport utility vehicle or family minivan can sometimes find themselves out of control and possibly flipping the vehicle on its side.

A rollover car, truck or bus crash can cause terrible bodily harm to driver and passengers alike. In cases where passenger restraint devices fail to hold the occupants in place, head and neck injuries can easily result; traumatic brain injury is just one of a number of life-threatening outcomes of these rollover-type car or truck accidents.

As Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my legal staff have been trained to help victims of car, truck and motorcycle collisions. Sadly, many rollover incidents can be fatal, and not only because of the injuries sustained when an occupant impacts the hard interior surfaces of the vehicle.

Many rollovers can cause one or more occupants to be ejected from the vehicle and onto the roadway. In fact, it is well known that drivers and passengers alike in greater danger of being killed or seriously injured if they are thrown from a vehicle during a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted studies that show vehicle occupants who experience partial or complete ejection from a passenger vehicle are three-times more likely to be killed as those who remain inside the car or truck.

The NHTSA has maintained over the years that seatbelt use is one of the primary ways that a passenger can avoid being ejected from a vehicle involved in a traffic accident. Even so, it was announced not long ago that the federal government has instituted a new law requiring car makers to develop additional countermeasures to help prevent unbelted adult passengers from being thrown from a car or SUV during a crash, according to news reports.

Going into effect in 2013, the new ruling will require every new car or truck under 10,000 lbs to be equipped with this anti-ejection countermeasures by 2018. What this means is that in less than eight years every new vehicle must be able to prevent an unbelted adult passenger from moving any further than 4 inches beyond a vehicle’s side window opening during a traffic accident.

Because rollover crashes can be particularly dangerous to vehicle occupants, the NHTSA believes that the new legislation is one more important step toward cutting down on serious car accident injuries, as well as lessening the chances of rollover fatalities on the nation’s roadways. According to reports, officials at the NHTSA feel that the new safety standard will prevent 373 deaths and 476 serious injuries annually as a result of rollover and similar traffic accidents.

NHTSA ruling aims to prevent crash ejection,, January 14, 2011

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