Car Roof Strength Standards Updated

It is a standard that hasn’t been updated for 35 years, despite the fact that every year about 10,000 passengers die in rollover crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has now agreed to double the requirement for the roof strength that a vehicle must be able to withstand to three times the weight for cars that weigh up to 6,000 pounds. This is essential if a passenger has any chance to survive a rollover accident. It is also an improvement from the 2.5 times a vehicle’s weight, which was previously proposed.

The proposed improvement should save lives and prevent at least 1,000 injuries a year, according to federal estimates. Previously, the law required the roof withstand only 1.5 times its weight.

Consumers may not understand it, but before the final rule was issued, very restrictive language was included that would have preempted or restricted lawsuits filed in state courts against automobile manufacturers. That language was removed from the final rule.

And while dynamic testing was left out of the rule – that is, testing roof strength when the car is in motion- the testing protocol will now include both sides of the car. Previously a test was conducted in less than real-world circumstances with a metal plate pressed against the vehicle’s roof on one side, then the other. Experienced Florida car accident attorneys understand from the cases they’ve seen that this is not what happens when a vehicle rolls. When a vehicle leaves the road and begins to roll, the pressure hits one side and weakens the roof causing it to crush in; then as the vehicle continues to roll, the other side receives the pressure, leading to the roof crush.

The standard of now testing both sides is a significant safety improvement that’s been in the works for about a decade.

Our personal injury lawyers at Farah and Farah wish that this new rule was going into effect sooner. Passengers will have to wait to the fall of 2012 to 2015, and larger vehicles than 6.000 pounds are not included. That leaves out heavier SUV’s and trucks, which still must meet the 1.5 times standard.

Unfortunately that means that more product liability lawsuits will continue and more passengers will continue to be injured in vehicles that are not up to the standards they should be. If you’ve been injured in a rollover accident, a law firm with experience in rollover accidents will have the expertise you need to handle your case. Call Farah and Farah today at 1-800-533-3555.