WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Regulators proposed road test standards Tuesday for measuring rollover risk in new vehicles, a cornerstone of landmark congressional requirements to improve auto safety after the Firestone tire debacle.
The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration plans to put as many as 100 makes and models through two turning maneuvers at different speeds to simulate rollover hazards.
In most cases, a car or truck will leave the road and "trip" on a ditch or soft dirt. But the government will test "untripped" events most commonly initiated by sharp maneuvers on normal pavement.
More than 9,800 people are killed annually in an estimated 270,000 rollover crashes in all types of vehicles, according to U.S. government crash data.
Regulators are also proposing two formats for presenting the new test results to consumers. Currently, the government analyzes vehicle design data to calculate rollover risk and rates models with a star system.
Under one reporting alternative, the NHTSA would combine the design analysis and road test results in a single rating for each model. The second alternative would involve separate ratings for design criteria and road tests.
New standards were mandated by Congress in 2000 after deadly rollovers and other crashes linked to Firestone tire failures. Most of those tires were installed as original equipment on Ford Motor's Explorer SUV.
The tread separations and blowouts led to separate recalls of millions of Firestone tires. Firestone is a unit of Japan's Bridgestone.