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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Stronger Curtain Airbags|Expected With New Rules

WASHINGTON (CN) - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expects car makers to design stronger curtain airbags for side windows, in response to a new standard to keep people from being ejected from side windows, especially in rollover crashes.

The standard applies to the side windows next to the first three rows of seats, and to a part of the cargo area behind the first or second rows, in cars, vans, sport utility vehicles and light trucks of 10,000 lbs. or less.

The agency has adopted a compliance test in which an item is propelled toward the edge of each window up to four times. The impacts will occur at two time intervals following airbag deployment, to ensure that the systems cover the entire opening of each window for the duration of a rollover. The safety system must prevent the projectiles from moving more than a specified distance beyond the plane of a window.

The agency anticipates that manufacturers will meet the standard by modifying existing side impact air bag curtains, and possibly supplementing them with advanced glazing. It is likely that curtain airbags will be made larger so they cover more of the window opening, made stronger to remain inflated longer, and made to deploy in both side impacts and in rollovers, according to the agency. In addition, after deployment the curtains likely will be tethered near the base of the vehicle's pillars or otherwise designed to keep the projectile within the boundaries established by the performance test. The phase-in of the new requirements starts Sept. 1, 2013.

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