Rollover Roof Crush: The Structural Roof Strength Affects Safety
During the past decade, as many as 80,000 consumers per year suffered injuries or property damage as a result of a rollover. Of those 80,000, approximately 10,000 lost their life or suffered some other catastrophic injury, such as paralysis or brain injuries. As the SUV became a popular mode of transportation in the 1990s, consumers began seeing an increase in incidents of rollovers.
A lot of these problems were aired publicly, for the first time, in the Ford Explorer/Firestone Tire recall in 2000. In this recall, Firestone Wilderness AT and Radial ATX tires were losing their treads on streets and freeways across the United States. Often, when the Firestone tire suffered a tread separation, the vehicle upon which is was equipped, the Ford Explorer, would rollover. This recall involved millions of tires and is, to date, one of the largest recalls in our nation’s history. As a result of this recall, US consumers were made aware publicly of the hazards associated with rollovers and roof crush.
To fully understand the history of rollovers and roof strength in this country, we must look back several decades. In 1973, safety standards were enacted that created the present-day Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). FMVSS 216 is the standard that addresses roof strength.
In the United States, all passenger vehicles, vans, trucks, and SUVs that have a Gross Weight Vehicle Ratio of 6,000 or less must satisfy this standard before they may sell their vehicle to the general public. In order to pass the test, vehicle manufacturers must place a square, metal platen on the corner of the A pillar and roof rail (the corner of the front windshield and driver door) and exert enough pressure to reach 1.5 times the weight of the vehicle. This is known as the strength-to-weight ratio (SWR). The vehicle must exhibit minimal roof crush or deformation in order to pass the test.
For years, consumer organizations such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Public Citizen have complained about several flaws involving this safety standard, including:
- The 1.5 SWR is too weak and needs to be increased.
- The platen test is not a “real world” test. In other words, this test does not simulate the forces exerted on a roof during an actual rollover, where the roof may come in to the contact with the ground multiple times.
- Only 1 area of the roof is tested, which may hide weak points in other areas of the roof.
- FMVSS 216 is only a minimum safety standard and manufacturers are not obligated to design stronger roofs beyond the 1.5 SWR .
- Many vehicles weigh in excess of 6,000 lbs. and are exempt from the minimal standard.
If you have been affected by an accident involving a rollover or crashworthiness issues, including roof crush, on your vehicle, you need an experienced Texas Roof Crush and Rollover Attorney who understands these issues. The Houston and San Antonio Texas Rollover Roof Crush Lawyer at Hill Law Firm haas represented victims affected by rollovers. Call us today if we can help in any way.