August 22, 2005

Safety organization outlines improved roof crush standard

Washington, D.C. – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today proposed improvements to its current roof crush standard.

The proposed new standard would require that a roof withstand an applied force equal to 2.5 times the vehicle weight while maintaining sufficient headroom for an average sized adult male. The current requirement is that the roof be able to withstand an applied force equal to 1.5 times the vehicle weight, with a limit of 5,000 pounds for cars.

The proposed new standard would extend roof strength requirements to all vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds. The current standard only applies to vehicles up to 6,000 pounds. Improved roof strength is one aspect of a comprehensive NHTSA plan to reduce deaths and injuries among belted occupants in rollover crashes.

The agency estimates that, among belted occupants, about 807 serious injuries and 596 fatalities annually are caused by contact with a collapsed roof during a rollover crash. About 10,000 people die annually in rollover crashes; approximately 60 percent are unbelted.The NHTSA estimates the new roof crush standard will annually prevent between 13 and 44 deaths and 500-800 injuries when fully implemented. The estimated cost per vehicle would be U.S.$11.81. The total average cost per year would be U.S.$88-$95 million.

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