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What Are the Benefits of an Energy Absorbing Steering Column?

by Christina Riopelle

Vehicles built in compliance with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards 203 and 204 include an installed, energy-absorbing steering column. The new designs, which became mandatory for passenger vehicles in the 1968 model year, reduce fatalities and injuries.

Front-end Collision

The steering wheels of older cars were attached to a rigid post. Upon impact, the steering wheel impacts a driver's face and chest, causing injuries ranging from bruising to crushing or puncturing. An energy-absorbing steering column collapses, reducing trauma to a driver's head, neck and breastbone.

Rear Impact

Installation of an energy-absorbing steering column decreases rearward displacement. In a front-end collision, a steering wheel may be pushed towards the driver upon impact. If a steering column absorbs the impact, it lessens the severity of driver injuries.

Statistics

According to NHTSA, if all vehicles were in compliance, energy-absorbing steering columns could "prevent 1,300 fatalities and 23,000 nonfatal injuries requiring hospitalization" each year.

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