National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Parts 571 and 598
[Docket No. NHTSA-2004-17694]
RIN 2127--AJ10

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards;
Side Impact Protection;
Side Impact Phase-In Reporting Requirements


AGENCY:  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation.

ACTION:  Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:  This NPRM would substantially upgrade the agency’s side impact protection standard, especially by requiring protection in crashes with narrow objects and protection against head injuries in side impact crashes with both narrow objects and other vehicles.

First, it would upgrade the standard by requiring that all passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) or less protect front seat occupants against head, thoracic, abdominal and pelvic injuries in a vehicle-to-pole test simulating a vehicle’s crashing sideways into narrow fixed objects like telephone poles and trees. To meet the head injury criteria in the pole test, vehicle manufacturers would likely need to install dynamically deploying side head protection systems, such as head air bags or inflatable air curtains that drop down from the roof line above the door frame. Air curtains can reduce head injuries in side crashes of passenger vehicles with poles and trees as well as side impacts from vehicles with high front ends. They also can help reduce partial and full ejections through side windows. Compliance with the pole test would be determined in two test configurations, one using a new, second-generation test dummy representing mid-size adult males and the other using a new test dummy representing small adult females.

Second, this NPRM would upgrade the standard’s existing vehicle-to-vehicle test that requires protection of front and rear seat occupants against thoracic and pelvic injuries in a test that uses a moving deformable barrier to simulate a moving vehicle’s being struck in the side by another moving vehicle. This NPRM would upgrade that test by requiring protection against head injuries. It would replace the mid-size male dummy currently used in that test with the new mid-size male dummy mentioned above and require compliance with the head, thoracic and pelvic injury criteria developed for the new dummy. It would also enhance protection for small adult occupants by adding the new small female test dummy mentioned above and requiring compliance with the injury criteria developed for that dummy. Thus, the number of test configurations would increase from one to two.

DATES:  You should submit your comments early enough to ensure that Docket Management receives them not later than [INSERT DATE 150 DAYS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER].

ADDRESSES:  You may submit comments (identified by the DOT DMS Docket Number) by any of the following methods:

INSTRUCTIONS: All submissions must include the agency name and docket number or Regulatory Identification Number (RIN) for this rulemaking. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the Public Participation heading of the Supplementary Information section of this document. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act discussion under the Public Participation heading.

DOCKET:  For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to at any time or to Room PL-401 on the plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC, between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.


For non-legal issues, you may call Dr. William Fan of the NHTSA Office of Crashworthiness Standards, at 202-366-4922.

For legal issues, you may call Deirdre R. Fujita of the NHTSA Office of Chief Counsel, at 202-366-2992.

You may send mail to these officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, D.C., 20590.


I.     Introduction

II.    Executive Summary

III.   Safety Problem

IV.   Regulatory, Research and Technological Developments—1990 to Present

  1. 1990 Simulated Vehicle-to-Vehicle Test—Chest and Pelvic Injury Criteria
  2. 1995 Establishment of Upper Interior Impact Protection Requirements
  3. 1996 First Inflatable Side Impact Protection Systems
  4. 1997 Report to Congress re Possibility of Harmonizing U.S. and European Vehicle-to-Vehicle Tests
  5. 1997 Head Injury Protection Criteria and First Generation Side Impact Test Dummy Capable of Measuring Head Impact Forces
  6. 1998 Pole Test to Evaluate Inflatable Side Impact Head Protection Systems
  7. Grant of 1998 Petition to Upgrade Side Impact Protection Standard
  8. 1997-1999 NHTSA Research re Vehicle-to-Vehicle Test Harmonization
  9. 1999-2000 Report to Congress and Response to Petition re Vehicle-to-Vehicle Test Harmonization
  10. 2000-2003 NHTSA Research re Side Impact Dummies, Injury Criteria, and Crash Tests
  11. Current Status of Second and Next Generation Side Impact Dummies
  12. Industry Efforts to Improve Compatibility in Vehicle-to-Vehicle Crashes

V.    Existing Standard

VI.   Proposed Vehicle-To-Pole Test Procedures, Dummies and Injury Criteria

  1. Test Procedure
    1. Speed
    2. Angle of Impact
    3. Positioning the Seat and Impact Reference Line
  2. Dummies and Injury Criteria
    1. 50th Percentile Male Dummy (ES-2re)
      1. Background
      2. Injury Criteria
      3. Oblique Pole Tests with ES-2 and ES-2re
      4. Comparing the ES-2re to the SID-H3
    2. 5th Percentile Female Dummy (SID-IIsFRG)
      1. Background
      2. Injury Criteria
      3. Oblique Pole Tests with 5th Percentile Female Dummy
  3. FMVSS No. 201 Pole Test Conditions

VII.   Proposed Improvements of Moving Deformable Barrier Test

  1. Replacement of Existing 50th Percentile Male Dummy with ES-2re and Addition of Injury Criteria
  2. Addition of 5th Percentile Female Dummy (SID-IIsFRG) and Injury Criteria

VIII.  Other Issues

  1. Struck Door Must Not Separate From Vehicle
  2. Rear Seat
  3. Interaction with Other Side Impact Programs
    1. Out-of-Position Criteria
    2. FMVSS No. 201 Pole Test
  4. Harmonization

IX.  Estimated Benefits and Costs of Proposed Pole Test

X.   Proposed Leadtime and Phase-in

XI.  Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

XII.  Public Participation