Car Roof Crush Standards Increased

Many automobile crashes which our Georgia lawyers investigate involve serious injury and deaths which are caused by roof collapses in rollover situations. Tragically, many of these victims would have been less seriously injured or survived had the roof of the vehicle not collapsed. For many years, safety advocates have urged auto makers and the federal government to increase the minimal standards for vehicle roof strength.
Now, under pressure from Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued increased roof-strength requirements. The long-awaited federal upgrade of the 35-year-old regulation governing vehicle roof strength will save 135 lives and prevent more than 1,000 injuries according to the United States Department of Transportation.
This is encouraging news. But, at the same time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued lower requirements for the heaviest vehicles and added a phase-in period. The final regulation boosts the requirement to three times the weight for vehicles up to 6,000 pounds. Vehicles 6,000-10,000 pounds must meet a 1.5 times standard. NHTSA says 135 lives will be saved and 1,065 injuries. The new regulation is estimated to add $54 per vehicle in design costs and another $15 to $62 in added fuel costs. NHTSA has been working with updating the current regulation for more than a decade.
Automakers said the new standard will require engineering and design challenges. But, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the group representing most major automakers, said they support NHTSA’s goal of enhancing rollover safety through a comprehensive plan aimed at eliminating rollover injuries and fatalities, while noting that enhanced roof strength is only one part of that plan.
The phase-in schedule, which begins in September 2012, will be completed for all affected vehicles by the 2017 model year. Beginning in the 2013 model year, manufacturers must have 25 percent of their vehicles over 6,000 pounds meet the 1.5 times standard — a requirement that jumps to 50 percent in the 2014 model year.
In January 2008, NHTSA stiffened its August 2005 proposal to require a two-sided roof-strength test, which would have the effect of requiring tougher roofs. Automakers oppose the double-sided test, saying it is unnecessary. They have also sought more time to comply, noting the expense of redesigning vehicles.
Toughening vehicle roofs is aimed at helping people survive rollover crashes, which account for more than 10,000 deaths annually, according to federal reports. Rollovers represent 3 percent of crashes, but account for one-third of all vehicle deaths.

Contact Information