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.
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.
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.
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.