The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a final rule in response to petitions for reconsideration of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 226, "Ejection Mitigation," established in 2011 to reduce complete and partial ejections of vehicle occupants through side windows in crashes, particularly rollovers. In its statement denying the petitions, NHTSA noted that the petitioners generally took issue with (i) technical engineering aspects of the rule, including compliance testing; and (ii) policy issues related to implementation of the standard, such as lead time. Although NHTSA made a few "minor" changes in response to the petitions, the agency reported that the petitioners did not make a strong enough case to warrant the requested changes.
The new rule, effective October 9, 2013, requires automobile manufacturers to enhance "side curtain air bags to make them larger to cover more of the window opening, more robust to remain inflated longer, and more advanced to deploy in side impacts and in rollovers." The rule also requires that curtains be made "not only to cushion but also to be sufficiently strong to reduce the likelihood that an occupant will be fully or partially ejected through a side window." See Federal Register, September 9, 2013.