There is no question that it is far safer to remain inside a vehicle during a crash than being ejected or partially ejected. That basic principle goes back to the origins of automotive safety. The first principle of crashworthiness, as defined by Hugh DeHaven in a 1952 paper presented to the Society of Automotive Engineers, states that the occupant compartment should not break open and spill its contents. This occurs when some component of the occupant compartment fails to keep an occupant from being ejected. This can occur with the failure of the vehicle door and even glass. We have seen numerous examples exist of properly belted and otherwise restrained occupants who received grievous injuries as a result of an unwanted door opening. Automobile manufacturers know that vehicles must be designed and manufactured so that ejection from the vehicle is prevented.
An automobile’s safety restraint system plays a critical role in preventing ejection and partial ejection in addition to the design of the vehicle’s structure. A properly designed and operating seat belt will keep a passenger from being ejected out of the vehicle. Unfortunately, many seatbelt systems are not designed for rollovers but only frontal collisions. Those same systems that work well in frontal collisions are unable to prevent ejection and partial ejection in rollovers. Side rollover airbags have been providing ejection mitigating safety since 2002. Sadly, there are still cars that have failed to implement this technology and others that have poorly performing systems.
Cars must be designed to prevent occupant ejection and partial ejection. This won’t be accomplished until cars are designed to protect occupants in rollovers. This is because the most frequent incident of ejection and partial ejection occurs in vehicle rollovers. Statistically, rollovers represent a small percentage of vehicle crashes, but a relatively high proportion of fatalities. More than half of fatal sport utility fatalities involve rollovers. Passengers who are ejected are ten times more likely to be killed than those who remain inside the vehicle. These statistics are evidence of why it’s critical that cars be designed to keep occupants from leaving the vehicle. If you need additional information on this subject, contact Chris Glover, a lawyer in our firm who handles product liability cases, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Chris.Glover@beasleyallen.com.
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