Light duty vehicles in the US are designed to meet and exceed regulatory standards, self-imposed industry agreements and safety rating tests conducted by NHTSA and IIHS. The evolution of side impact regulation in the US from 1973 to 2015 is discussed in the paper along with two key industry agreements in 2003 affecting design of restraint systems and structures for side impact protection. A combination of all the above influences shows that vehicles in the US are being designed to more demanding and comprehensive requirements than in any other region of the world. The crash environment in the US related to side impacts was defined based on data in the nationally representative crash database NASS. Crash environment factors, including the distribution of cars, light trucks and vans (LTV’s), and medium-to-heavy vehicles (MHV’s) in the fleet, and the frequency of their interactions with one another in side impacts, were considered.