Keeping your head restrained

US Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater has proposed a new safety standard to upgrade the present requirement for head restraints

In an effort to improve occupant protection in rear-end collisions, US Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater has proposed a new safety standard to upgrade the present requirement for head restraints for passenger cars, light multipurpose vehicles, trucks and buses.

‘This proposal would help reduce the number of neck injuries people suffer in traffic crashes,’ said Secretary Slater. ‘Upgrading this safety standard will result in improved safety, which is President Clinton and Vice President Gore’s highest transportation priority.’

The proposal by the department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would establish higher minimum height requirements for head restraints and add a requirement limiting the distance between a driver or passenger’s head and the head restraint.

NHTSA’s data show that neck injuries occur more frequently in rear-impact crashes. The changes to head restraints required by the proposal would reduce the number of neck injuries by an estimated more than 14,000 a year.

‘This proposal represents a significant step toward safer vehicles,’ said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Sue Bailey. ‘By upgrading the present rule, we will reduce both the frequency and severity of neck injuries in rear crashes.’

The proposal also would extend the requirements for head restraints to rear outboard seating positions, establish new strength requirements for head restraints, and place limits on the size of gaps and openings in head restraints. In addition, it would modify compliance test procedures.

The proposal is in NHTSA’s Docket No. 2000-8570. Interested parties who wish to comment on the proposal should do so by March 5, 2001. Comments should be sent in writing to Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590.

Comments may also be submitted to the docket electronically by logging onto the department’s Dockets Management System website at http://dms.dot.gov.

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