The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommended dozens of new safety initiatives on June 12 to reduce rollover crashes and protect occupants in cars that crash with SUVs and other trucks, said an article in the Detroit News
.The recommendations include new safety ratings that tell consumers how well vehicles handle in abrupt maneuvers and a complete overhaul of the federal regulation for protecting occupants in side-impact crashes. NHTSA formed several task forces in September 2002 to look at ways to reduce SUV-related injuries and deaths and to provide more information to consumers. According to the agency, rollover crashes killed more than 10,000 people in 2001 and that number is on the rise due to the higher percentage of SUVs on the road.The agency also wants automakers to use safety belt reminder systems. It estimates that 78 percent of those killed in rollover crashes are unbelted. NHTSA said increased seat belt use, stronger windows, side-curtain air bags and better door latches could play a role in preventing occupants from being ejected during a crash, which is key to survival. The agency is undertaking a year of further research before it will decide whether to pursue any new front-end design requirements. It has set no specific timetable for implementing the recommendations.