"This voluntary agreement is actually a model for responsible action on behalf of automakers to improve occupant safety," Dave McCurdy, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers CEO was quoted as saying by detnews.com. "Just six years later, 100 percent of the vehicles involved in this commitment have now been engineered according to the agreement's performance criteria."
Initially, the agreement called for 50 percent of the vehicles produced to be equipped with side airbags by September 2007. Still, the carmakers' endeavor is a voluntary act and so far has no prospects of becoming law in the near future.
NHTSA's requirements impose side curtain and side torso airbags, but only starting 2013 for heavier vehicles and 2012 for smaller ones. NHTSA hopes that by imposing the airbags will help save 300 lives and 260 serious injuries per year. Until then, the carmakers' agreement is perceived as a step forward.
"The automakers researched this issue, identified ways to reduce the risk, and agreed to appropriate measures - and they did this all faster than the government could have through regulations," Adrian Lund, IIHS president said. "This doesn't mean colliding passenger vehicles now are compatible in every crash, but it does mean car occupants are less likely to be injured or killed in crashes with SUVs and pickup trucks."