Under the direction of the US Congress, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a proposal for revised standards affecting the roofs of large sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks and their performance during rollover crashes.
The proposal would extend roof strength requirements to all vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds to withstand direct pressure of 2.5 times the vehicle weight, increasing the current rule of 1.5 times the weight; the current standard only applies to vehicles up to 6,000 pounds.
NHTSA will accept comments on the proposed rules no later than November 21, 2005.
NHTSA also is seeking comment on other aspects of its rollover protection strategy, including the possible use of improved safety belt technology to better hold a belted occupant in place during a rollover crash.
“It will take a comprehensive strategy to reduce the staggering number of rollover deaths on the nation’s highways”, said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge, MD. “Improving roof strength is an integral part of that plan.”
The agency estimates that, among belted occupants, about 807 serious injuries and 596 fatalities annually are caused by contact with a collapsed roof during a rollover crash. About 10,000 people die annually in rollover crashes; approximately 60 percent are unbelted.
NHTSA estimates the new roof crush standard will annually prevent between 13 and 44 deaths and 500-800 injuries when fully implemented. The estimated cost per vehicle would be $11.81.