Seeking to further reduce the number of fatalities from post-crash fires, U.S. federal regulators have ordered automakers to meet tougher standards for fuel tank performance in crash impact tests. Automakers and their suppliers will have to start meeting the new rules in the 2005 model year, and have their full fleet in compliance by 2009, according to a report published in the Detroit News. Under the current certification standards, cars and trucks are struck from behind by a flat, rigid barrier at 30 mph, as well as from the side at 20 mph. The vehicles are then checked for fuel leakage. The new test will replace the flat, rigid barrier with a lighter, deformable barrier that more closely resembles a car’s front bumper. The rear-impact test will be conducted at 50 mph and the side test will be performed at 33.5 mph. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association estimates 46% of the cars and trucks on the road today would fail the new tests. Approximately 70% of the fuel tanks going into vehicles in current production are made from high density polyethylene plastic.