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Federal Safety Agency Announces Stricter Standards for Side Curtain Air Bags

As a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer, I was very pleased to see an announcement that federal regulators will toughen up safety equipment requirements in new vehicles. The Detroit News reported Dec. 1 that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates and tracks traffic safety issues, will require larger and stronger side curtain air bags in new vehicles starting in 2014. The new standards are intended to reduce the number of deaths each year in rollover crashes, considered one of the most deadly crash types. Vehicles with the new air bags will be tested on how well they keep occupants from being thrown from the vehicles, where they can sustain serious head and spinal injuries.

NHTSA statistics say vehicle rollovers cause about 10,400 deaths every year. The problem is worse for drivers and passengers who aren’t using seat belts or age-appropriate car seats, but the agency estimates that about 13% of the 402 lives saved by the new regulation will be the lives of people who are using seat belts. The standard applies to vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or less, which includes large SUVs, vans and pickup trucks as well as passenger cars. According to the article, the new standards would likely lead to larger side curtain air bags large enough to cover more of the windows; strong enough to keep passengers from being thrown through the windows; and inflated for several seconds (rather than just 0.1 second, as with frontal air bags).

I applaud this sensible move by the NHTSA. According to the article, the agency estimates that the new regulations will add approximately $54 to the cost of vehicles. As a Coral Springs auto accident attorney, I believe most people would agree that that’s a very small price to pay to reduce their risk of dying. Rollover crashes are so deadly because they throw occupants around the inside of the vehicles, where they can sustain serious head, neck and back injuries or puncture wounds from metal and glass that was deformed by the accident. In many cases, especially cases where vehicle occupants didn’t use safety restraints, they can also be thrown violently out of the vehicle. This is undoubtedly one reason why NHTSA statistics show that rollovers accounted for just 2.7% of all crashes in 2008, but 21.25% of fatal crashes.

If you or a loved one was involved in a serious traffic crash through no fault of your own, you should call Cohn, Smith & Cohn right away. For more than 25 years, our Dania Beach car wreck lawyers have helped Floridians deal with the physical, emotional and financial effects of serious crashes caused by someone else’s carelessness. Especially in a bad economy, we have found that many accident victims are thrown off their financial footing by the steep bills and income losses that accidents can cause. We help our clients put the financial responsibility for these losses back where it belongs — on the driver or company that caused the crash in the first place. We also help clients collect financial compensation for their less tangible, but still very real, losses from chronic pain, trauma, permanent disability or the loss of a loved one.

Cohn, Smith & Cohn offers free, confidential consultations to all potential clients. If you believe you might have a case, we would like to learn more. To set up an evaluation of your case, you can reach us through our Web site or call our main office in Broward County at (954) 431-8100.

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