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Safety Authority Makes SUV Safety Recommendations Public

June 13, 2003

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended dozens of new safety initiatives June 12 to reduce rollover crashes and protect occupants in cars that crash with sport utility vehicles and other trucks, the Detroit News reported.The recommendations include new safety ratings and a complete overhaul of the federal regulation for protecting occupants in side-impact crashes, according to the paper.To reduce rollovers, the Detroit News said, NHTSA is considering a program to evaluate how vehicles handle in emergencies because vehicles with more responsive steering will help drivers stay on the road. NHTSA might publish ratings to help consumers choose vehicles with better handling characteristics, the report added.The paper said NHTSA also wants automakers to use safety belt reminder systems and estimates that 78 percent of those killed in rollover crashes are unbelted.At the same time, the Detroit News added, NHTSA will upgrade its roof-strength requirements. Currently, vehicles must have roofs strong enough to bear 1.5 times their weight. Critics say the test does not replicate the violence of a real-world rollover crash.NHTSA also 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 paper noted.
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