The Senate Commerce Committee approved a long list of new regulatory requirements June 26 that would pressure automakers to improve safety on several fronts, including making sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks less prone to rolling over and less dangerous to other vehicles in collisions, according to the New York Times
.The measures, included in a budget authorization for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), are part of a broader highway financing bill.The safety regulations, which would be phased in from 2004 to 2008, are still a long way from reality, according to the Times
. They have not gone before the full Senate, and the Bush administration has not signed off on them. Further, the House of Representatives could counter with a different plan, the Times
said.The new requirements, if they ultimately take effect, would touch on several areas that have been vigorously debated by the auto industry and public safety groups. The safety agency would be required to develop a standard for rollover prevention, according to the Times
. The agency is also directed to include improved seat belt technology and to require side air bags to combat rollovers, the Times
said. According to the Times
, new roof-strength standards would be required to reflect more accurately what happens in rollovers.