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Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Presents New Roof Strength Rating System for Autos

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has unveiled its new roof strength rating system for motor vehicles. The IIHS says that out of the 12 small SUV’s that were tested, only four of them earned a “good” rating, which is the highest rating possible.
The roof strength test pushes a metal plate against one side of the roof at a regular speed, and before getting crushed five inches, the roof must have withstood a force that is four times more than the weight of the vehicle. To earn an acceptable rating, the SUV must exhibit a minimum strength-to-weight ration of 3.25, which is also influenced by the vehicle weight and the engine size. SUVs with roofs that performed well on the Institute’s test have roofs that are at least 2.5 times stronger than the federal government’s minimum roof strength safety standard.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s current roof safety standard, established in 1973, calls for passenger vehicles to be able to withstand during a rollover crash a force that is 1.5 greater than the motor vehicle’s weight. Although the federal government is pushing to have the strength-to-weight ratio upgraded to 2.5 and to have this standard apply to vehicles with a gross weight of more than 6,000 (which would include the larger SUV’s and pickup trucks), the Institute is pushing for even tougher standards.
IHS Roof Strength Test Results:
Volkswagen Tiguan – ranked first among vehicles that earned a “good” vehicle roof rating.
Jeep Patriot – Good
Subaru Foster – Good
Honda Element – Good
Mistubishi Outlander – Acceptable
Suzuki Grand Vitara – Acceptable
Toyota RAV4 – Acceptable
Chevrolet Equinox – Acceptable
Nissan Rouge – Acceptable
Ford Escape – Marginal
Honda CRV – Marginal
Kia – Poor
The Institute says the roof strength rating system will hopefully make it even easier for buyers to choose the safest motor vehicles. The roof strength rating system will also play a role in the selection of IIHS’s 2010 Top Safety Picks.
While SUV roofs are now designed so that they are stronger than those that were made a few years back, there are still over 10,000 people a year that are killed in rollover accidents. 25% of all passenger occupant fatalities involved minivans or cars rolling over, with SUV’s considered highly susceptible torollover accidents.
A rollover accident will frequently damage a vehicle’s roof, crushing or deforming it and causing serious injury to vehicle occupants. This is why the stronger the roof, the greater the protection for those inside the motor vehicle. Auto manufacturers can no longer afford to make vehicles with roofs that are poorly designed or constructed.
Roof strength is focus of new rating system; 4 of 12 small SUVs evaluated earn top marks, IIHS.org, March 24, 2009
Roof Strength Another Step In Auto Safety, CNBC.com, March 24, 2009
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations, NHTSA.gov
Roof Strength and Injury Risk in Rollover Crashes of Passenger Cars and SUVs (PDF)

This major product defect has been a contributing factor in one too many motor vehicle deaths, especially as so many SUV rollover accidents tend to be catastrophic. Please contact our auto products liability attorneys at Gilbert & Ollanik, PC today.

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