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Auto Regulators May Need More Time to Develop Tougher Roof Strength Regulations

At a June 4 hearing before the US Senate, auto safety regulators said they need more time to make sure that adding more headroom and weight to vehicle roofs will not increase the chances of a vehicle rollover. At the center of discussions was the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s proposal to update its roof safety standards.
The higher gravity center of pick-up trucks and SUVs is what make these kinds of vehicles more likely to rollover. The NHTSA’s current standard, established in 1973, requires that passenger cars withstand a force 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight during a rollover accident. The 2005 proposal would increase that standard to 2.5 times the vehicle weight. Critics, however, believe this is still not enough to increase passenger safety in a rollover crash, and they have been pushing for an even tougher standard—which is why, in January, the NHTSA said it would consider revising its proposal.
Although by law, the NHTSA has until July 1 to revise its roof standard, lawmakers want the update delayed until regulators arrive at the “correct” standard. Some safety advocates, however, say that there is no concrete evidence to indicate that strengthening current roof standards would significantly minimize the number of injuries and deaths in rollover crashes. Rollover deaths make up 25% of all traffic accident fatalities in the United States, and there were over 10,000 rollover deaths in 2007.
The NHTSA proposal also wants to make automakers exempt from state products liability lawsuits if the vehicles involved in the auto accidents met the new roof safety standards. This would prevent injury passengers from being able to sue for compensation for medical costs, lost income, recovery costs, and other damages.
Our defective auto products law firm represents products liability clients that were injured in rollover accidents and other motor vehicle crashes that occurred because a motor vehicle or one of its auto parts was defective. We have helped injury victims all over the United States recover personal injury compensation.
U.S. Lawmakers Question Regulators on Vehicle Roof Strength Rules, Insurance Journal, June 5, 2008
Roof Crush Standard Flawed, Preempts State Efforts, OMBWatch.org, June 10, 2008
Related Web Resources:
IIHS testifies on the relationship of roof strength and injury risk in rollover crashes (PDF)
NHTSA 2005 Roof Crush Proposal

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