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NHTSA Releases New Proposed Auto Roof Strength Standards

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Earlier this week we reported that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was about to propose stricter roof crush standards.

Those proposed new requirements have now been released.

If instituted, the new requirements would affect all vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds, overriding the current cut off at 6,000 pounds.

These new regulations regarding vehicle roof strength are only one measure of  NHTSA’s plan to reduce the nearly 10,000 deaths and hundreds of injuries that occur in rollover crashes.
Specifically, the agency aims to reduce the deaths and injuries of passengers wearing seat belts. Currently about 807 serious injuries and 596 fatalities occur annually to these riders from roof collapse.

To improve safety during rollovers the NHTSA is also considering the development of more advanced safety belt technology to keep passengers in their seats during a rollover crash.

However, the NHTSA estimates the new roof crush standard alone will substantially reduce fatalities. It could prevent between 13 and 44 deaths and 500-800 injuries annually once it is in full effect.

Under the new standards a roof would be required to withstand applied forces equal to 2.5 times the vehicle weight without encroaching on the 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.

According to NHTSA, the new roof standards are estimated to cost only $11.81 per vehicle to implement for a total average yearly cost of $88-$95 million.

As expected, the auto industry has taken the position that the new requirements will increase cost without increasing safety while consumer advocates claim the new regulations do not go far enough.

NHTSA will receive comments on the proposal for 90 days. To voice an opinion or see the full proposal visit the government website at: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/rulings/RoofCrushNotice/216NPRM-to-FR.html

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