The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced this week that it is revising safety requirements to require sliding doors on minivans to have a second latch.
The change is designed to prevent doors from opening during crashes so that motorists not wearing a seatbelt are not thrown out of the vehicle. People most as risk of being thrown through the open sliding door of a minivan in an accident are children, according to NHTSA.
The new rules are on the agency Web site, www.nhtsa.gov. It states that those at greatest risk of falling through the sliding doors are children because they sit in the back of these vehicles in disproportionately high numbers. The rule also requires these sliding doors to have two latches. Adding a second latch will cost an average of $7 per door at an annual cost of $8.4 million.
More than 54,000 people are ejected each year from vehicles, according to NHTSA, with 15 percent thrown through doors. Regulators at NHTSA estimate the new rule will save lives each year and injuries may be prevented or reduced in severity as the result or a passenger remaining inside the vehicle.
In 2003, 1.4 million vans were sold with sliding doors. Almost half, 660,000 vans, do not meet the new standard. If one life can be saved as a result of this new rule, it would be worth it.
I absolutely agree that these safety features must be added to minivans, considering that our children’s lives are at risk. Parents must also insist, inspect and enforce seat belt use by their children passengers. For that matter, every driver and passenger in an automobile should be insisting that all other occupants are properly seat belted before the vehicle moves.
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