Auto makers would be required to put shoulder belts in rear seats of new cars and might have to provide information about automobile crashworthiness under legislation that cleared the Senate on Friday and now goes to the House.
The bill, which includes other car safety requirements, was approved after a year in which 45,600 people were killed in highway crashes, a 4% increase over 1985.
Auto manufacturers would have to install lap-shoulder belts in the rear seats of half the cars made after Sept. 1, 1989, and all automobiles produced after Sept. 1, 1990. Recent tests have shown that in some instances the lap belts now in back seats are not sufficient protection and may cause abdominal injuries.
The bill also would direct the government to try to create an accurate rating system by which consumers could compare the crashworthiness of cars. If the government finds such a system is possible, the bill would require the system to be available within three years of enactment.
The safety provisions are contained in a measure that would provide $116 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the next two years.