• Dec 3rd 2009 at 10:58AM
  • 38
Naturally, safety is a top priority for both automakers and consumers alike. It's also of paramount concern to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, which is the government body that sets standards for automobile safety here in the States. According to The Detroit News, NHTSA is currently drafting up new legislation that would make side curtain airbags more robust.

NHTSA projects that the modified airbags would save some 402 lives and prevent 302 serious injuries per year, with the bulk of those made up of motorists who are not properly wearing their seat belts. The new rules would mandate curtain airbags that cover up more of the window opening and stay inflated longer, helping to ensure that occupants are not ejected during a rollover accident.

What price safety? Current estimates peg the upgrade at about $54 per vehicle, which equals roughly $920 million annually. Under the proposal, 20 percent of every major manufacturer's fleet would need to comply by 2014 and all vehicles would need to be so-equipped by 2017.

[Source: The Detroit News]

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Here's something:

      New regulations and laws can't protect stupid drivers because of their ignorance.

      Last thing I want to see is some small sedan start costing $20 or $25,000 or more because of standard safety equipment, when we should focus on getting stupid drivers off the road that make these safety equipment a requirement.

      Harsh prison sentences for those who drive and text, drive and use a cellphone, get distracted and kill someone, drive drunk, fail to wear a seatbelt, speed and run red lights and stop signs, drive and put their toddler or baby in the front seat without proper restraints, drive and kill someone in a road rage-- 10 or 20 year prison sentence, or heavier fines in excess of $1000 or $5000 or more for each gross negligence they commit. I'm sure the government wouldn't mind the extra income in this economic downturn

      That would be a better idea than making our vehicles heavier, expensive, and put a drain on fuel economy when companies are being forced to make their vehicles efficient, and struggling to keep themselves and their employees being paid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I will gladly fork over 54$ per car to protect my noggin.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Uh, you can... just get the side airbag option already available in many vehicles today.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Who will save from the NHTSA?
      • 5 Years Ago
      "with the bulk of those made up of motorists who are not properly wearing their seat belts."

      So everyone pays more for the fools who don't know how to use a seat belt....

      This would make cars safer... but... sigh. at least it's not adding too much extra weight since it's just a different spec for already mandatory curtain airbags. Still, I can't help think the money is better spent on driver education. And if people don't learn from that, it's their fault.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The money is better spent elsewhere. You save people who don't properly use seat belts in a specific situation. Fine, pat on the back, we are saving the lives who don't know how to use seat belts. But what about other situations? If more people used seat belts properly it would save more lives overall in a VARIETY of situations, not just in roll overs. A cousin died in an accident, he was launched through the windshield. The curtain airbags, new/old/revised would had never saved his life in that situation. Had he used the seat belt properly, then he would still be alive. If the NHTSA worked harder on promoting safety, the changes they are advocating for would be rendered moot. You can put all the safety features and technology you want into a vehicle, but a car is only as safe as the driver.

        Here's a simple point. Seat belts can save lives. But if the person is not using it or is using it wrong, it renders the seat belt useless. You have to get people to buy into being more safe-minded, more responsible.

        To make it clear, I'm not against better air bags. I am for better driver education and safety programs. Those make far more impact in saving lives.
        • 5 Years Ago
        are you stupid? How does it cost you anything? A Nissan Versa at 10k has side curtain airbags, wwwwwwwwwooooooooooo the guy who buys an infiniti has to overpay, which they already do now. Wake up people small cars need side airbags. forget suvs, and seatbelts, people who drive economy cars have little protection in a side impact crash with a truck or suv or even a full side car.
        does everyone watch fox news? Why is everyone sticking with the damn seatbelt line so much, look at the whole picture, look outside yourself.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I swear...with all the lives that are supposed to be saved with each new safety feature the NHTSA wants to mandate no one should ever perish in an automobile.

      Come to think of it....we may end up with more people in the car at the destination than when we left home! Now THAT is safety!

      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd like to have side airbags in my car...oh wait, I do. Why do need a regulating body to mandate it. If you want side airbags you can already buy a car with them.
      Just let the free market work. If enough people want it, car manufacturers will start adding them to more cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Perfect safety is attainable--at a price. There is always a question of cost and benefit.

      In this case, $920-million to prevent 705 deaths/serious injuries, works out to over $1.3-million per casualty prevented. That's far too high.

      It would be far more productive to add a $54 tax to the cost of a car and use the proceeds to fund better healthcare.

        • 5 Years Ago
        We already have better healthcare. You mean give it away free. If you forget about paying that tax thing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wear your seatbelts! Save the struggling automakers $54million! Everyone also forgets the insurance costs involved in replacing all these deployed airbags. It is getting where a fairly minor accident will "total" a car due to cost of repair (a large portion being the number of airbags)>
      • 5 Years Ago
      Waste of money and resources. Please work to lighten cars and reduce the amount of materials used, not increase. At what point do we stop installing additional safety features? When it only saves one person per year? When there is no more death at all?

      I understand that $54 per vehicle isn't that much, but in the long run it adds up and the increase is safety seems marginal at best.

      I'm sure no one will like this post, but whatever.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You know I don't want to get voted down here or anything but are we really arguing over the weight of a airbag? If I designed cars my first priority would be the safety of the driver and passengers in the vehicle.

        What bubble do you live in to think something like this would only save a single person a year? I'm sure many parents would be happy knowing their children were safer driving as one of the leading causes of death to teens and young adults involve car crashes.
        • 5 Years Ago

        These safety nannies are mandating new features well past the point of any reasonable benefit.

        Their reported "lives saved" statistics are probably about as accurate as the "global warming" statistics reported by the Climate-gate “scientists“.

        I see the Jeep Wrangler as the canary in the coal mine. At what point will the safety nannies legislate it out of existence?
        • 5 Years Ago
        It does indeed add up. Even if you only produce 1mil cars a year, that's already $54 million in additional cost. People only see the little dollar amount; they don't understand basic manufacturing economics.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree. And the extra weight (air bags are not light) will add to fuel cost.
        If you want to mandate side airbags to SUV’s or vehicles that are prone to roll over that’s one thing, but mandating them for all vehicles in a time where we are trying to make light – small – fuel efficient cars is jut dumb.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is just a slippery slope we have gotten ourselves into... Most of the reason cars today are so dangerous is because they are getting hit by other cars that are so heavy... No we have to offset this weight with more safety features which just add weight and cost... So the government will force the companies to add weight to cars, all the while complaining about how fuel economy, at the expense of the car companies and consumers...

      From an engineering standpoint it makes no sense that we need a 3000-4000 pound vessel to move a few 200lb people...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wouldn't have such a problem with this if the goal wasn't to protect those who "are not properly wearing their seat belts". Buckling up is the driver's (and passengers') end of the deal, if they don't comply, then all bets are off. Why make everyone sacrifice time, money, simplicity, and vehicle dynamics to save those that neglect to take that one little step to ensure their own safety? I'll admit that sometimes I don't buckle up when just driving down the street or something, but while doing so I understand that I'm taking a risk, and that burden is on me. This is ridiculous.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Airbags save live, sure...but mostly the lives of idiots who aren't wearing seat belts in the first place...and then this might save 400 people a year...if they roll over and were heading out the window (def. no seatbelt).

      The gene pool does not benefit from this legislation.

      I think America needs to stop protecting stupid people from themselves, and start protecting he rest of us from stupid people.

      Heck Drinking and driving kills 25,000 people a year and they don't mandate breathalyzers in cars (which would cost about the same and save tons more people).

    • Load More Comments