Safety advocates have long argued that SUV roofs crush too easily in rollover crashes and cause avoidable deaths. About 10,000 deaths a year occur in rollovers. The numbers have climbed with the rise in popularity of SUVs and other light trucks, whose relatively high centers of gravity increased the chances of rollovers. While some carmakers have denied any connection between roof strength and passenger safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study Wednesday that suggests the opposite. Carl Nash, a former NHTSA official who works as an accident and safety expert witness in rollover cases against car companies says automakers “build cars as if the roof is never going to touch the ground.”
NHTSA hasn’t upgraded its standard for roof strength since 1971but this about to change. Newsday.com writes:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is scheduled to increase vehicle roof strength requirements this summer for the first time since 1973 for passenger cars and since 1994 for light trucks. The current minimum mandates that cars and light trucks be able to support of 1 1/2 times the vehicle’s weight in a roll over crash without deforming more than five inches, and that requirement could change to 2 1/2 times their weight.