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]