Improved head-injury protection will be required in cars and light trucks starting in the 1999 model year. The changes could save more than 1,000 lives a year, an official said Wednesday.
Transportation Secretary Federico Pena said the regulation will help prevent injuries that occur when people strike their heads on the hard, upper interior parts of vehicles.
All occupants of a vehicle, including those in the rear seat, are included in the rule. It covers such things as pillars, side rails, roof and front and rear headers. Exempted are frames for convertible roofs and for sunroofs.
The new rule does not specify how vehicle makers are to improve head-injury safety. Instead, it specifies that upper components must pass the same test requirements as dashboards and other items already regulated.