When Elizabeth P.'s Toyota station wagon skidded off an icy road one foggy winter night and slammed sideways into a tree, she never knew that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 214 had saved her life. The standard, issued by the federal auto safety agency-the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)-requires auto makers to build side door beams in cars, as specified in the dry technical language of Volume 49, Section 571.214 of the Code of Federal Regulations

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