The number of deaths in rollover crashes has climbed with the popularity of SUVs and other light trucks whose relatively high centers of gravity increases the chance 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.” Newsday.com also reports:
In its tests, the institute said, the differences among the 11 vehicles were dramatic. For example, it said, when a Nissan Xterra and Ford Explorer, both 2000 models, were subjected to a crushing force of up to 10,000 pounds, the Nissan’s roof crushed about two inches, while the Explorer’s deformed 10 inches, “caving far into the occupant compartment even before reaching 10,000 pounds of force.”
Other vehicles tested and studied included the 1996-2004 Chevrolet Blazer, 2002-05 Chevrolet TrailBlazer, 1998-2003 Dodge Durango, 2002-04 Ford Explorer, 1996-98 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 1999-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2002-05 Jeep Liberty, 1997-2004 Mitsubishi Montero Sport, and 1996-2000 Toyota 4Runner.
The report, “Relationship between roof strength and injury risk in rollover crashes” by M.L. Brumbelow et al. is available by writing to: Publications, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1005 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington, Va., 22201, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.