The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report this week
that confirms what many products liability attorneys and injury victims
have said about sport utility vehicles all along: If they were made with
better roofs, there would be less serious injuries and deaths when rollovers do occur.
Automakers have disputed this claim for years and safety regulators, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have been slow to condemn the quality of SUV roofs without more definitive evidence.
The IIHS report, however, is definite about its conclusion that over 200 SUV rollover deaths could have been avoided in 2006 if these SUVs were made with roofs as strong as the best one the that the IIHS tested. “Strengthening a vehicle’s roof,” according to IIHS President Adrian Lund, “reduces injury risk.. a lot.”
The institute came to this conclusion after compiling data from 12 U.S. States and comparing the injury and death rates for four-door SUVs. The SUVs tested were sold from the mid-1990′s through 2004 and did not include models with side-curtain air bags or stability control.
Not everyone is convinced by the IIHS’s finding that improving vehicle roof strength is the answer. The NHTSA says that people not wearing seatbelts continues to be a major cause of rollover deaths. The NHTSA hasn’t revised its roof strength standard since 1971. It is working on a revised standard and estimates that this update, once implemented, will help save 13 to 44 lives a year.
Nissan, the automaker whose vehicle ranked as the “best roof” tested, says other factors, such as the seriousness of the crash, also affected the chances of serious injuries or deaths.
A roof that crushes during a motor vehicle accident increases the chances of passenger injury or death. Spinal cord injuries, head injures, neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and death are more likely to occur when a roof crushes into passengers’ bodies. Roof crushes are more likely to happen during a rollover. Because of the height and shape of SUV’s, these vehicles have a higher chance than cars of becoming involved in a rollover accident.
Our auto crash law firm represents clients injured in SUV rollover crashes and other kinds of serious injury accidents throughout the United States. We understand the nature of SUV rollover crashes and have gone up against some of the largest auto manufacturers in the world to sue for damages for our clients.
Crash-test report backs stronger roofs on SUVs, USA Today, March 12, 2008
Roof Strength and Injury Risk in Rollover Crashes, IIHS.org (PDF)
Related Web Resources:
Rollover Status Report, IIHS.org, (PDF)
Safety Briefing on Roof Crush, Citizen.org
Contact Gilbert & Ollanik P.C. today.